|Publication number||US9581342 B2|
|Application number||US 14/229,641|
|Publication date||28 Feb 2017|
|Filing date||28 Mar 2014|
|Priority date||28 Mar 2014|
|Also published as||US20150276237, US20170299199|
|Publication number||14229641, 229641, US 9581342 B2, US 9581342B2, US-B2-9581342, US9581342 B2, US9581342B2|
|Inventors||Eric B. Daniels, William R. Dong, Jason C. Chamberlain, Daniel A. Warren, Helen Vo, Shyam R. Srinivasan, Anthony M. Fadell, Matthew L. Rogers|
|Original Assignee||Google Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (127), Non-Patent Citations (38), Referenced by (2), Classifications (7), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This patent specification relates to systems and methods for the monitoring and control of energy-consuming systems or other resource-consuming systems. More particularly, this patent specification relates to control units that govern the operation of energy-consuming systems, household devices, or other resource-consuming systems, including methods for interfacing with boiler-based heating systems.
In European countries, thermostats generally use a bimetallic strip to sense temperature and respond to temperature changes in the room. The movement of the bimetallic strip is used to directly open and close an electrical circuit. Power is delivered to an electromechanical actuator, usually relay or contactor in the boiler equipment whenever the contact was closed to provide heating and/or cooling to the controlled space. Since these thermostats do not require electrical power to operate, the wiring connections were very simple. A two-wire connection typically runs between the thermostat and the boiler system.
In some embodiments, a control system flexibly adapted for retrofit use with multiple types of pre-existing boiler-based heating systems may be presented. The control system may include a thermostat device. The thermostat device may include a user interface, a processor, a memory, a temperature sensor, and an occupancy sensor, and one or more radios. The thermostat device may be configured to transmit control signals for controlling activation of a boiler system. The control system may also include a boiler control device configured to selectively couple mains AC voltage wires to wiring terminals that are coupled to a boiler system according to control signals received from the thermostat device and thereby selectively control activation of the boiler system. The control system may additionally include a thermostat stand configured to be mechanically coupled to the thermostat device; the thermostat stand comprising a reflective horizontal surface such that motion detection of energy-emitting objects is enhanced by virtue of reflections of energy emissions off of the reflective horizontal surface into the occupancy sensor.
In some embodiments, a thermostat stand for a thermostat device facilitating relocation of the thermostat device within an enclosure while in communication with a boiler control device may be presented. The thermostat stand may include a base configured to rest on an approximately flat surface. The thermostat stand may also include a mounting fixture configured to receive a thermostat device comprising a user interface, a processor, a memory, a temperature sensor, and an occupancy sensor. The thermostat device may be configured to transmit control signals for controlling activation of a boiler-based heating system to a boiler control device that is configured to receive the control signals from the thermostat device and thereby selectively control activation of the boiler-based heating system. The thermostat stand may additionally include an opening configured to allow one or more wires to pass through the opening to connect to the thermostat device, the one or more wires originating from either a power supply or from the boiler control device. The thermostat stand may further include a reflective horizontal surface positioned such that motion detection of energy-emitting objects is enhanced by virtue of reflections of energy emissions off of the reflective horizontal surface into the occupancy sensor.
In some embodiments, a thermostat device that facilitates relocation within an enclosure while in communication with a boiler control device may be presented. The thermostat device may include a head unit comprising a user interface, a processor, a memory, a temperature sensor, and an occupancy sensor. The thermostat device may be configured to transmit control signals to the boiler control device for controlling activation of a boiler-based heating system. The thermostat device may also include a backplate. The backplate may be configured to receive the head unit, and the back plate may be configured to be received by a thermostat stand. The thermostat stand may include a reflective horizontal surface positioned such that motion detection of energy-emitting objects is enhanced by virtue of reflections of energy emissions off of the reflective horizontal surface into the occupancy sensor.
Various embodiments may include one or more of the following features in any combination. The occupancy sensor may include an infrared (IR) sensor, and the reflective horizontal surface may include an IR-reflective surface. The thermostat device may include a head unit and a backplate. The backplate may be configured to receive the head unit, and the back plate may be configured to be received by the thermostat stand. The thermostat stand may include one or more mechanical alignment protrusions and/or cavities configured to receive corresponding mechanical alignment protrusions and/or cavities on the backplate of the thermostat device such that the user interface of the thermostat device can be correctly oriented when mating the thermostat device to the thermostat stand. The thermostat stand may further include an opening configured to allow one or more wires to pass through the opening to connect to the thermostat device, the one or more wires originating from either a power supply or from the boiler control device. The reflective horizontal surface may include a metallic finish. The metallic finish may include a sheet of stainless steel. The thermostat stand may be to orient the thermostat device upwards at an angle of greater than 90° relative to a surface on which the thermostat stand is placed within the enclosure. The thermostat device may further include a first radio of a first type for relatively high data rate communications; a second radio of a second type for relatively low data rate communications; first wiring terminals for receiving, if available, wires from the boiler control device; second wiring terminals for receiving, if available, wires from an external power supply; and signal encoding circuitry coupled to the first wiring terminals and the processor for applying coded control signals to the first wiring terminals.
A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings. Also note that other embodiments may be described in the following disclosure and claims.
The subject matter of this patent specification relates to the subject matter of the following commonly assigned applications, each of which is incorporated by reference herein: U.S. Ser. No. 13/269,501 filed Oct. 7, 2011; U.S. Ser. No. 13/632,112 filed Sep. 30, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/632,112 filed Sep. 30, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/632,041 filed Sep. 30, 2012; PCT Application No. PCT/US12/00007, filed Jan. 3, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/926,335 filed Jun. 25, 2013); U.S. Ser. No. 13/624,811 filed Sep. 21, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/624,881 filed Sep. 21, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/632,070 filed Sep. 30, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/842,213 filed Mar. 15, 2013; PCT Application No. PCT/US13/61021 filed Sep. 20, 2013; U.S. Ser. No. 13/632,152 filed Sep. 30, 2012; U.S. Ser. No. 13/926,312 filed Jun. 25, 2013; and U.S. Ser. No. 13/926,302 filed Jun. 25, 2013. The above-referenced patent applications are collectively referenced herein as “the commonly-assigned incorporated applications.”
In the following detailed description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the various embodiments of the present invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art will realize that these various embodiments of the present invention are illustrative only and are not intended to be limiting in any way. Other embodiments of the present invention will readily suggest themselves to such skilled persons having the benefit of this disclosure. It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without some or all of these specific details. In other instances, well known details have not been described in detail in order not to unnecessarily obscure the present invention.
In addition, for clarity purposes, not all of the routine features of the embodiments described herein are shown or described. One of ordinary skill in the art would readily appreciate that in the development of any such actual embodiment, numerous embodiment-specific decisions may be required to achieve specific design objectives. These design objectives will vary from one embodiment to another and from one developer to another. Moreover, it will be appreciated that such a development effort might be complex and time-consuming but would nevertheless be a routine engineering undertaking for those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure.
It is to be appreciated that while one or more embodiments are described further herein in the context of typical HVAC system used in a residential home, such as single-family residential home, the scope of the present teachings is not so limited. More generally, intelligent thermostat systems according to one or more of the embodiments are applicable for a wide variety of enclosures having one or more HVAC systems including, without limitation, duplexes, townhomes, multi-unit apartment buildings, hotels, retail stores, office buildings, and industrial buildings. Further, it is to be appreciated that while the terms user, customer, installer, homeowner, occupant, guest, tenant, landlord, repair person, and/or the like may be used to refer to the person or persons who are interacting with the thermostat or other device or user interface in the context of one or more scenarios described herein, these references are by no means to be considered as limiting the scope of the present teachings with respect to the person or persons who are performing such actions.
Provided according to one or more embodiments are methods and systems for setting up, pairing, controlling, and/or programming one or more of intelligent, network-connected, intelligent thermostat systems. These intelligent thermostat systems may be configured and adapted to be implemented in a smart home environment, seamlessly interacting with other devices in the smart home environment. The term “intelligent thermostat systems” is used herein to represent a particular combination of devices that can be configured to control an HVAC system in an enclosure, e.g., a home, an office or another structure. However, this intelligent thermostat systems may also be capable of controlling other devices, controlling non-HVAC systems and events (e.g., security related events), and/or working in cooperation with other devices to provide additional features to the smart home environment. Again, it is within the scope of the present teachings for embodiments of the intelligent thermostat systems of the present invention to detect measurable characteristics other than environmental conditions (e.g., pressure, flow rate, height, position, velocity, acceleration, capacity, power, loudness, and brightness) and monitor and/or respond to one or more measurable characteristics of one or more physical systems.
It is to be appreciated that “smart home environments” may refer to smart environments for homes such as a single-family house, but the scope of the present teachings is not so limited, the present teachings being likewise applicable, without limitation, to duplexes, townhomes, multi-unit apartment buildings, hotels, retail stores, office buildings, industrial buildings, and more generally any living space or work space having one or more smart hazard detectors.
It is to be further appreciated that while the terms user, customer, installer, homeowner, occupant, guest, tenant, landlord, repair person, and the like may be used to refer to the person or persons who are interacting with the smart hazard detector or user interface in the context of some particularly advantageous situations described herein, these references are by no means to be considered as limiting the scope of the present teachings with respect to the person or persons who are performing such actions. Thus, for example, the terms user, customer, purchaser, installer, subscriber, and homeowner may often refer to the same person in the case of a single-family residential dwelling, because the head of the household is often the person who makes the purchasing decision, buys the unit, and installs and configures the unit, and is also one of the users of the unit. However, in other scenarios, such as a landlord-tenant environment, the customer may be the landlord with respect to purchasing the unit, the installer may be a local apartment supervisor, a first user may be the tenant, and a second user may again be the landlord with respect to remote control functionality. Importantly, while the identity of the person performing the action may be germane to a particular advantage provided by one or more of the embodiments—for example, the password-protected hazard detection functionality described further herein may be particularly advantageous where the landlord holds the sole password and can control hazard detection via the hazard detection device—such identity should not be construed in the descriptions that follow as necessarily limiting the scope of the present teachings to those particular individuals having those particular identities.
The detailed description includes two subsections: (1) an overview of smart home device networks and capabilities, and (2) a detailed description of an intelligent thermostat system for controlling boiler-based heating systems. The first subsection provides a description of the capabilities of the smart home devices. The second subsection provides a detailed description an intelligent thermostat system comprising a head unit, a backplate, and a base unit, along with methods for installation, setup, and/or controlling a boiler-based heater.
Smart Home Device Networks and Capabilities
Turning to the figures,
The depicted structure 150 includes a plurality of rooms 152, separated at least partly from each other via walls 154. The walls 154 can include interior walls or exterior walls. Each room can further include a floor 156 and a ceiling 158. Devices can be mounted on, integrated with and/or supported by a wall 154, floor 156 or ceiling 158.
In some embodiments, the smart-home environment 100 of
In some embodiments, the smart-home environment 100 of
Still further, in some embodiments, the smart-home environment 100 of
According to embodiments, the smart thermostats 102, the smart hazard detectors 104, the smart doorbells 106, the smart wall switches 108, the smart wall plugs 110, and other devices of the smart-home environment 100 are modular and can be incorporated into older and new houses. For example, the devices are designed around a modular platform consisting of two basic components: a head unit and a backplate, which is also referred to as a docking station. Multiple configurations of the docking station are provided so as to be compatible with any home, such as older and newer homes. However, all of the docking stations include a standard head-connection arrangement, such that any head unit can be removably attached to any docking station. Thus, in some embodiments, the docking stations are interfaces that serve as physical connections to the structure and the voltage wiring of the homes, and the interchangeable head units contain all of the sensors, processors, user interfaces, the batteries, and other functional components of the devices.
Many different commercial and functional possibilities for provisioning, maintenance, and upgrade are possible. For example, after years of using any particular head unit, a user will be able to buy a new version of the head unit and simply plug it into the old docking station. There are also many different versions for the head units, such as low-cost versions with few features, and then a progression of increasingly-capable versions, up to and including extremely fancy head units with a large number of features. Thus, it should be appreciated that the various versions of the head units can all be interchangeable, with any of them working when placed into any docking station. This can advantageously encourage sharing and re-deployment of old head units—for example, when an important high-capability head unit, such as a hazard detector, is replaced by a new version of the head unit, then the old head unit can be re-deployed to a backroom or basement, etc. According to embodiments, when first plugged into a docking station, the head unit can ask the user (by 2D LCD display, 2D/3D holographic projection, voice interaction, etc.) a few simple questions such as, “Where am I” and the user can indicate “living room”, “kitchen” and so forth.
The smart-home environment 100 may also include communication with devices outside of the physical home but within a proximate geographical range of the home. For example, the smart-home environment 100 may include a pool heater monitor 114 that communicates a current pool temperature to other devices within the smart-home environment 100 or receives commands for controlling the pool temperature. Similarly, the smart-home environment 100 may include an irrigation monitor 116 that communicates information regarding irrigation systems within the smart-home environment 100 and/or receives control information for controlling such irrigation systems. According to embodiments, an algorithm is provided for considering the geographic location of the smart-home environment 100, such as based on the zip code or geographic coordinates of the home. The geographic information is then used to obtain data helpful for determining optimal times for watering, such data may include sun location information, temperature, due point, soil type of the land on which the home is located, etc.
By virtue of network connectivity, one or more of the smart-home devices of
As discussed, users can control the smart thermostat and other smart devices in the smart-home environment 100 using a network-connected computer or portable electronic device 166. In some examples, some or all of the occupants (e.g., individuals who live in the home) can register their device 166 with the smart-home environment 100. Such registration can be made at a central server to authenticate the occupant and/or the device as being associated with the home and to give permission to the occupant to use the device to control the smart devices in the home. An occupant can use their registered device 166 to remotely control the smart devices of the home, such as when the occupant is at work or on vacation. The occupant may also use their registered device to control the smart devices when the occupant is actually located inside the home, such as when the occupant is sitting on a couch inside the home. It should be appreciated that instead of or in addition to registering devices 166, the smart-home environment 100 makes inferences about which individuals live in the home and are therefore occupants and which devices 166 are associated with those individuals. As such, the smart-home environment “learns” who is an occupant and permits the devices 166 associated with those individuals to control the smart devices of the home.
In some instances, guests desire to control the smart devices. For example, the smart-home environment may receive communication from an unregistered mobile device of an individual inside of the home, where said individual is not recognized as an occupant of the home. Further, for example, a smart-home environment may receive communication from a mobile device of an individual who is known to be or who is registered as a guest.
According to embodiments, a guest-layer of controls can be provided to guests of the smart-home environment 100. The guest-layer of controls gives guests access to basic controls (e.g., a judicially selected subset of features of the smart devices), such as temperature adjustments, but it locks out other functionalities. The guest layer of controls can be thought of as a “safe sandbox” in which guests have limited controls, but they do not have access to more advanced controls that could fundamentally alter, undermine, damage, or otherwise impair the occupant-desired operation of the smart devices. For example, the guest layer of controls will not permit the guest to adjust the heat-pump lockout temperature.
A use case example of this is when a guest is in a smart home, the guest could walk up to the thermostat and turn the dial manually, but the guest may not want to walk around the house “hunting” the thermostat, especially at night while the home is dark and others are sleeping. Further, the guest may not want to go through the hassle of downloading the necessary application to their device for remotely controlling the thermostat. In fact, the guest may not have the home owner's login credentials, etc., and therefore cannot remotely control the thermostat via such an application. Accordingly, according to embodiments of the invention, the guest can open a mobile browser on their mobile device, type a keyword, such as “NEST” into the URL field and tap “Go” or “Search”, etc. In response, the device presents the guest with a user interface, which allows the guest to move the target temperature between a limited range, such as 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As discussed, the user interface provides a guest layer of controls that are limited to basic functions. The guest cannot change the target humidity, modes, or view energy history.
According to embodiments, to enable guests to access the user interface that provides the guest layer of controls, a local webserver is provided that is accessible in the local area network (LAN). It does not require a password, because physical presence inside the home is established reliably enough by the guest's presence on the LAN. In some embodiments, during installation of the smart device, such as the smart thermostat, the home owner is asked if they want to enable a Local Web App (LWA) on the smart device. Business owners will likely say no; home owners will likely say yes. When the LWA option is selected, the smart device broadcasts to the LAN that the above referenced keyword, such as “NEST”, is now a host alias for its local web server. Thus, no matter whose home a guest goes to, that same keyword (e.g., “NEST”) is always the URL you use to access the LWA, provided the smart device is purchased from the same manufacturer. Further, according to embodiments, if there is more than one smart device on the LAN, the second and subsequent smart devices do not offer to set up another LWA. Instead, they register themselves as target candidates with the master LWA. And in this case the LWA user would be asked which smart device they want to change the temperature on before getting the simplified user interface for the particular smart device they choose.
According to embodiments, a guest layer of controls may also be provided to users by means other than a device 166. For example, the smart device, such as the smart thermostat, may be equipped with walkup-identification technology (e.g., face recognition, RFID, ultrasonic sensors) that “fingerprints” or creates a “signature” for the occupants of the home. The walkup-identification technology can be the same as or similar to the fingerprinting and signature creating techniques descripted in other sections of this application. In operation, when a person who does not live in the home or is otherwise not registered with the smart home or whose fingerprint or signature is not recognized by the smart home “walks up” to a smart device, the smart device provides the guest with the guest layer of controls, rather than full controls.
As described below, the smart thermostat and other smart devices “learn” by observing occupant behavior. For example, the smart thermostat learns occupants' preferred temperature set-points for mornings and evenings, and it learns when the occupants are asleep or awake, as well as when the occupants are typically away or at home, for example. According to embodiments, when a guest controls the smart devices, such as the smart thermostat, the smart devices do not “learn” from the guest. This prevents the guest's adjustments and controls from affecting the learned preferences of the occupants.
According to some embodiments, a smart television remote control is provided. The smart remote control recognizes occupants by thumbprint, visual identification, RFID, etc., and it recognizes a user as a guest or as someone belonging to a particular class having limited control and access (e.g., child). Upon recognizing the user as a guest or someone belonging to a limited class, the smart remote control only permits that user to view a subset of channels and to make limited adjustments to the settings of the television and other devices. For example, a guest cannot adjust the digital video recorder (DVR) settings, and a child is limited to viewing child-appropriate programming.
According to some embodiments, similar controls are provided for other instruments, utilities, and devices in the house. For example, sinks, bathtubs, and showers can be controlled by smart spigots that recognize users as guests or as children and therefore prevent water from exceeding a designated temperature that is considered safe.
In some embodiments, in addition to containing processing and sensing capabilities, each of the devices 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, 114, and 116 (collectively referred to as “the smart devices”) is capable of data communications and information sharing with any other of the smart devices, as well as to any central server or cloud-computing system or any other device that is network-connected anywhere in the world. The required data communications can be carried out using any of a variety of custom or standard wireless protocols (Wi-Fi, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, etc.) and/or any of a variety of custom or standard wired protocols (CAT6 Ethernet, HomePlug, etc.)
According to embodiments, all or some of the smart devices can serve as wireless or wired repeaters. For example, a first one of the smart devices can communicate with a second one of the smart device via a wireless router 160. The smart devices can further communicate with each other via a connection to a network, such as the Internet 162. Through the Internet 162, the smart devices can communicate with a central server or a cloud-computing system 164. The central server or cloud-computing system 164 can be associated with a manufacturer, support entity, or service provider associated with the device. For one embodiment, a user may be able to contact customer support using a device itself rather than needing to use other communication means such as a telephone or Internet-connected computer. Further, software updates can be automatically sent from the central server or cloud-computing system 164 to devices (e.g., when available, when purchased, or at routine intervals).
According to embodiments, the smart devices combine to create a mesh network of spokesman and low-power nodes in the smart-home environment 100, where some of the smart devices are “spokesman” nodes and others are “low-powered” nodes. Some of the smart devices in the smart-home environment 100 are battery powered, while others have a regular and reliable power source, such as by connecting to wiring (e.g., to 120V line voltage wires) behind the walls 154 of the smart-home environment. The smart devices that have a regular and reliable power source are referred to as “spokesman” nodes. These nodes are equipped with the capability of using any wireless protocol or manner to facilitate bidirectional communication with any of a variety of other devices in the smart-home environment 100 as well as with the central server or cloud-computing system 164. On the other hand, the devices that are battery powered are referred to as “low-power” nodes. These nodes tend to be smaller than spokesman nodes and can only communicate using wireless protocols that requires very little power, such as Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, etc. Further, some, but not all, low-power nodes are incapable of bidirectional communication. These low-power nodes send messages, but they are unable to “listen”. Thus, other devices in the smart-home environment 100, such as the spokesman nodes, cannot send information to these low-power nodes.
As described, the smart devices serve as low-power and spokesman nodes to create a mesh network in the smart-home environment 100. Individual low-power nodes in the smart-home environment regularly send out messages regarding what they are sensing, and the other low-powered nodes in the smart-home environment—in addition to sending out their own messages—repeat the messages, thereby causing the messages to travel from node to node (i.e., device to device) throughout the smart-home environment 100. The spokesman nodes in the smart-home environment 100 are able to “drop down” to low-powered communication protocols to receive these messages, translate the messages to other communication protocols, and send the translated messages to other spokesman nodes and/or the central server or cloud-computing system 164. Thus, the low-powered nodes using low-power communication protocols are able send messages across the entire smart-home environment 100 as well as over the Internet 162 to the central server or cloud-computing system 164. According to embodiments, the mesh network enables the central server or cloud-computing system 164 regularly receive data from all of the smart devices in the home, make inferences based on the data, and send commands back to one of the smart devices to accomplish some of the smart-home objectives descried herein.
As described, the spokesman nodes and some of the low-powered nodes are capable of “listening”. Accordingly, users, other devices, and the central server or cloud-computing system 164 can communicate controls to the low-powered nodes. For example, a user can use the portable electronic device (e.g., a smartphone) 166 to send commands over the Internet to the central server or cloud-computing system 164, which then relays the commands to the spokesman nodes in the smart-home environment 100. The spokesman nodes drop down to a low-power protocol to communicate the commands to the low-power nodes throughout the smart-home environment, as well as to other spokesman nodes that did not receive the commands directly from the central server or cloud-computing system 164.
An example of a low-power node is a smart nightlight 170. In addition to housing a light source, the smart nightlight 170 houses an occupancy sensor, such as an ultrasonic or passive IR sensor, and an ambient light sensor, such as a photo resistor or a single-pixel sensor that measures light in the room. In some embodiments, the smart nightlight 170 is configured to activate the light source when its ambient light sensor detects that the room is dark and when its occupancy sensor detects that someone is in the room. In other embodiments, the smart nightlight 170 is simply configured to activate the light source when its ambient light sensor detects that the room is dark. Further, according to embodiments, the smart nightlight 170 includes a low-power wireless communication chip (e.g., ZigBee chip) that regularly sends out messages regarding the occupancy of the room and the amount of light in the room, including instantaneous messages coincident with the occupancy sensor detecting the presence of a person in the room. As mentioned above, these messages may be sent wirelessly, using the mesh network, from node to node (i.e., smart device to smart device) within the smart-home environment 100 as well as over the Internet 162 to the central server or cloud-computing system 164.
Other examples of low-powered nodes include battery-operated versions of the smart hazard detectors 104. These smart hazard detectors 104 are often located in an area without access to constant and reliable power and, as discussed in detail below, may include any number and type of sensors, such as smoke/fire/heat sensors, carbon monoxide/dioxide sensors, occupancy/motion sensors, ambient light sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, and the like. Furthermore, smart hazard detectors 104 can send messages that correspond to each of the respective sensors to the other devices and the central server or cloud-computing system 164, such as by using the mesh network as described above.
Examples of spokesman nodes include smart doorbells 106, smart thermostats 102, smart wall switches 108, and smart wall plugs 110. These devices 102, 106, 108, and 110 are often located near and connected to a reliable power source, and therefore can include more power-consuming components, such as one or more communication chips capable of bidirectional communication in any variety of protocols.
In some embodiments, these low-powered and spokesman nodes (e.g., devices 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, and 170) can function as “tripwires” for an alarm system in the smart-home environment. For example, in the event a perpetrator circumvents detection by alarm sensors located at windows, doors, and other entry points of the smart-home environment 100, the alarm could be triggered upon receiving an occupancy, motion, heat, sound, etc. message from one or more of the low-powered and spokesman nodes in the mesh network. For example, upon receiving a message from a smart nightlight 170 indicating the presence of a person, the central server or cloud-computing system 164 or some other device could trigger an alarm, provided the alarm is armed at the time of detection. Thus, the alarm system could be enhanced by various low-powered and spokesman nodes located throughout the smart-home environment 100. In this example, a user could enhance the security of the smart-home environment 100 by buying and installing extra smart nightlights 170.
In some embodiments, the mesh network can be used to automatically turn on and off lights as a person transitions from room to room. For example, the low-powered and spokesman nodes (e.g., devices 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, and 170) detect the person's movement through the smart-home environment and communicate corresponding messages through the mesh network. Using the messages that indicate which rooms are occupied, the central server or cloud-computing system 164 or some other device activates and deactivates the smart wall switches 108 to automatically provide light as the person moves from room to room in the smart-home environment 100. Further, users may provide pre-configuration information that indicates which smart wall plugs 110 provide power to lamps and other light sources, such as the smart nightlight 170. Alternatively, this mapping of light sources to wall plugs 110 can be done automatically (e.g., the smart wall plugs 110 detect when a light source is plugged into it, and it sends a corresponding message to the central server or cloud-computing system 164). Using this mapping information in combination with messages that indicate which rooms are occupied, the central server or cloud-computing system 164 or some other device activates and deactivates the smart wall plugs 110 that provide power to lamps and other light sources so as to track the person's movement and provide light as the person moves from room to room.
In some embodiments, the mesh network of low-powered and spokesman nodes can be used to provide exit lighting in the event of an emergency. In some instances, to facilitate this, users provide pre-configuration information that indicates exit routes in the smart-home environment 100. For example, for each room in the house, the user provides a map of the best exit route. It should be appreciated that instead of a user providing this information, the central server or cloud-computing system 164 or some other device could automatically determine the routes using uploaded maps, diagrams, architectural drawings of the smart-home house, as well as using a map generated based on positional information obtained from the nodes of the mesh network (e.g., positional information from the devices is used to construct a map of the house). In operation, when an alarm is activated (e.g., when one or more of the smart hazard detector 104 detects smoke and activates an alarm), the central server or cloud-computing system 164 or some other device uses occupancy information obtained from the low-powered and spokesman nodes to determine which rooms are occupied and then turns on lights (e.g., nightlights 170, wall switches 108, wall plugs 110 that power lamps, etc.) along the exit routes from the occupied rooms so as to provide emergency exit lighting.
Further included and illustrated in the exemplary smart-home environment 100 of
When serving as a localized thermostat for an occupant, a particular one of the service robots 162 can be considered to be facilitating what can be called a “personal comfort-area network” for the occupant, with the objective being to keep the occupant's immediate space at a comfortable temperature wherever that occupant may be located in the home. This can be contrasted with conventional wall-mounted room thermostats, which have the more attenuated objective of keeping a statically-defined structural space at a comfortable temperature. According to one embodiment, the localized-thermostat service robot 162 is configured to move itself into the immediate presence (e.g., within five feet) of a particular occupant who has settled into a particular location in the home (e.g. in the dining room to eat their breakfast and read the news). The localized-thermostat service robot 162 includes a temperature sensor, a processor, and wireless communication components configured such that control communications with the HVAC system, either directly or through a wall-mounted wirelessly communicating thermostat coupled to the HVAC system, are maintained and such that the temperature in the immediate vicinity of the occupant is maintained at their desired level. If the occupant then moves and settles into another location (e.g. to the living room couch to watch television), the localized-thermostat service robot 162 proceeds to move and park itself next to the couch and keep that particular immediate space at a comfortable temperature.
Technologies by which the localized-thermostat service robot 162 (and/or the larger smart-home system of
When serving as a localized air monitor/purifier for an occupant, a particular service robot 162 can be considered to be facilitating what can be called a “personal health-area network” for the occupant, with the objective being to keep the air quality in the occupant's immediate space at healthy levels. Alternatively or in conjunction therewith, other health-related functions can be provided, such as monitoring the temperature or heart rate of the occupant (e.g., using finely remote sensors, near-field communication with on-person monitors, etc.). When serving as a localized hazard detector for an occupant, a particular service robot 162 can be considered to be facilitating what can be called a “personal safety-area network” for the occupant, with the objective being to ensure there is no excessive carbon monoxide, smoke, fire, etc., in the immediate space of the occupant. Methods analogous to those described above for personal comfort-area networks in terms of occupant identifying and tracking are likewise applicable for personal health-area network and personal safety-area network embodiments.
According to some embodiments, the above-referenced facilitation of personal comfort-area networks, personal health-area networks, personal safety-area networks, and/or other such human-facing functionalities of the service robots 162, are further enhanced by logical integration with other smart sensors in the home according to rules-based inferencing techniques or artificial intelligence techniques for achieving better performance of those human-facing functionalities and/or for achieving those goals in energy-conserving or other resource-conserving ways. Thus, for one embodiment relating to personal health-area networks, the air monitor/purifier service robot 162 can be configured to detect whether a household pet is moving toward the currently settled location of the occupant (e.g., using onboard sensors and/or by data communications with other smart-home sensors along with rules-based inferencing/artificial intelligence techniques), and if so, the air purifying rate is immediately increased in preparation for the arrival of more airborne pet dander. For another embodiment relating to personal safety-area networks, the hazard detector service robot 162 can be advised by other smart-home sensors that the temperature and humidity levels are rising in the kitchen, which is nearby to the occupant's current dining room location, and responsive to this advisory the hazard detector service robot 162 will temporarily raise a hazard detection threshold, such as a smoke detection threshold, under an inference that any small increases in ambient smoke levels will most likely be due to cooking activity and not due to a genuinely hazardous condition.
The above-described “human-facing” and “away” functionalities can be provided, without limitation, by multiple distinct service robots 162 having respective dedicated ones of such functionalities, by a single service robot 162 having an integration of two or more different ones of such functionalities, and/or any combinations thereof (including the ability for a single service robot 162 to have both “away” and “human facing” functionalities) without departing from the scope of the present teachings. Electrical power can be provided by virtue of rechargeable batteries or other rechargeable methods, with
Provided according to some embodiments are systems and methods relating to the integration of the service robot(s) 162 with home security sensors and related functionalities of the smart home system. The embodiments are particularly applicable and advantageous when applied for those service robots 162 that perform “away” functionalities or that otherwise are desirable to be active when the home is unoccupied (hereinafter “away-service robots”). Included in the embodiments are methods and systems for ensuring that home security systems, intrusion detection systems, and/or occupancy-sensitive environmental control systems (for example, occupancy-sensitive automated setback thermostats that enter into a lower-energy-using condition when the home is unoccupied) are not erroneously triggered by the away-service robots.
Provided according to one embodiment is a home automation and security system (e.g., as shown in
According to another embodiment, functionality similar to that of the central server in the above example can be performed by an on-site computing device such as a dedicated server computer, a “master” home automation console or panel, or as an adjunct function of one or more of the smart-home devices of
According to other embodiments, there are provided methods and systems for implementing away-service robot functionality while avoiding false home security alarms and false occupancy-sensitive environmental controls without the requirement of a single overall event orchestrator. For purposes of the simplicity in the present disclosure, the home security systems and/or occupancy-sensitive environmental controls that would be triggered by the motion, noise, vibrations, or other disturbances of the away-service robot activity are referenced simply as “activity sensing systems,” and when so triggered will yield a “disturbance-detected” outcome representative of the false trigger (for example, an alarm message to a security service, or an “arrival” determination for an automated setback thermostat that causes the home to be heated or cooled to a more comfortable “occupied” setpoint temperature). According to one embodiment, the away-service robots are configured to emit a standard ultrasonic sound throughout the course of their away-service activity, the activity sensing systems are configured to detect that standard ultrasonic sound, and the activity sensing systems are further configured such that no disturbance-detected outcome will occur for as long as that standard ultrasonic sound is detected. For other embodiments, the away-service robots are configured to emit a standard notification signal throughout the course of their away-service activity, the activity sensing systems are configured to detect that standard notification signal, and the activity sensing systems are further configured such that no disturbance-detected outcome will occur for as long as that standard notification signal is detected, where the standard notification signal comprises one or more of: an optical notifying signal; an audible notifying signal; an infrared notifying signal; an infrasonic notifying signal; a wirelessly transmitted data notification signal (e.g., an IP broadcast, multicast, or unicast notification signal, or a notification message sent in an TCP/IP two-way communication session).
According to some embodiments, the notification signals sent by the away-service robots to the activity sensing systems are authenticated and encrypted such that the notifications cannot be learned and replicated by a potential burglar. Any of a variety of known encryption/authentication schemes can be used to ensure such data security including, but not limited to, methods involving third party data security services or certificate authorities. For some embodiments, a permission request-response model can be used, where any particular away-service robot requests permission from each activity sensing system in the home when it is ready to perform its away-service tasks, and does not initiate such activity until receiving a “yes” or “permission granted” message from each activity sensing system (or from a single activity sensing system serving as a “spokesman” for all of the activity sensing systems). One advantage of the described embodiments that do not require a central event orchestrator is that there can (optionally) be more of an arms-length relationship between the supplier(s) of the home security/environmental control equipment, on the one hand, and the supplier(s) of the away-service robot(s), on the other hand, as it is only required that there is the described standard one-way notification protocol or the described standard two-way request/permission protocol to be agreed upon by the respective suppliers.
According to still other embodiments, the activity sensing systems are configured to detect sounds, vibrations, RF emissions, or other detectable environmental signals or “signatures” that are intrinsically associated with the away-service activity of each away-service robot, and are further configured such that no disturbance-detected outcome will occur for as long as that particular detectable signal or environmental “signature” is detected. By way of example, a particular kind of vacuum-cleaning away-service robot may emit a specific sound or RF signature. For one embodiment, the away-service environmental signatures for each of a plurality of known away-service robots are stored in the memory of the activity sensing systems based on empirically collected data, the environmental signatures being supplied with the activity sensing systems and periodically updated by a remote update server. For another embodiment, the activity sensing systems can be placed into a “training mode” for the particular home in which they are installed, wherein they “listen” and “learn” the particular environmental signatures of the away-service robots for that home during that training session, and thereafter will suppress disturbance-detected outcomes for intervals in which those environmental signatures are heard.
For still another embodiment, which is particularly useful when the activity sensing system is associated with occupancy-sensitive environmental control equipment rather than a home security system, the activity sensing system is configured to automatically learn the environmental signatures for the away-service robots by virtue of automatically performing correlations over time between detected environmental signatures and detected occupancy activity. By way of example, for one embodiment an intelligent automated nonoccupancy-triggered setback thermostat such as the Nest Learning Thermostat can be configured to constantly monitor for audible and RF activity as well as to perform infrared-based occupancy detection. In particular view of the fact that the environmental signature of the away-service robot will remain relatively constant from event to event, and in view of the fact that the away-service events will likely either (a) themselves be triggered by some sort of nonoccupancy condition as measured by the away-service robots themselves, or (b) occur at regular times of day, there will be patterns in the collected data by which the events themselves will become apparent and for which the environmental signatures can be readily learned. Generally speaking, for this automatic-learning embodiment in which the environmental signatures of the away-service robots are automatically learned without requiring user interaction, it is more preferable that a certain number of false triggers be tolerable over the course of the learning process. Accordingly, this automatic-learning embodiment is more preferable for application in occupancy-sensitive environmental control equipment (such as an automated setback thermostat) rather than home security systems for the reason that a few false occupancy determinations may cause a few instances of unnecessary heating or cooling, but will not otherwise have any serious consequences, whereas false home security alarms may have more serious consequences.
According to embodiments, technologies including the sensors of the smart devices located in the mesh network of the smart-home environment in combination with rules-based inference engines or artificial intelligence provided at the central server or cloud-computing system 164 are used to provide a personal “smart alarm clock” for individual occupants of the home. For example, user-occupants can communicate with the central server or cloud-computing system 164 via their mobile devices 166 to access an interface for the smart alarm clock. There, occupants can turn on their “smart alarm clock” and input a wake time for the next day and/or for additional days. In some embodiments, the occupant may have the option of setting a specific wake time for each day of the week, as well as the option of setting some or all of the inputted wake times to “repeat”. Artificial intelligence will be used to consider the occupant's response to these alarms when they go off and make inferences about the user's preferred sleep patterns over time.
According to embodiments, the smart device in the smart-home environment 100 that happens to be closest to the occupant when the occupant falls asleep will be the device that transmits messages regarding when the occupant stopped moving, from which the central server or cloud-computing system 164 will make inferences about where and when the occupant prefers to sleep. This closest smart device will as be the device that sounds the alarm to wake the occupant. In this manner, the “smart alarm clock” will follow the occupant throughout the house, by tracking the individual occupants based on their “unique signature”, which is determined based on data obtained from sensors located in the smart devices. For example, the sensors include ultrasonic sensors, passive IR sensors, and the like. The unique signature is based on a combination of walking gate, patterns of movement, voice, height, size, etc. It should be appreciated that facial recognition may also be used.
According to an embodiment, the wake times associated with the “smart alarm clock” are used by the smart thermostat 102 to control the HVAC in an efficient manner so as to pre-heat or cool the house to the occupant's desired “sleeping” and “awake” temperature settings. The preferred settings can be learned over time, such as by observing which temperature the occupant sets the thermostat to before going to sleep and which temperature the occupant sets the thermostat to upon waking up.
According to an embodiment, a device is positioned proximate to the occupant's bed, such as on an adjacent nightstand, and collects data as the occupant sleeps using noise sensors, motion sensors (e.g., ultrasonic, IR, and optical), etc. Data may be obtained by the other smart devices in the room as well. Such data may include the occupant's breathing patterns, heart rate, movement, etc. Inferences are made based on this data in combination with data that indicates when the occupant actually wakes up. For example, if—on a regular basis—the occupant's heart rate, breathing, and moving all increase by 5% to 10%, twenty to thirty minutes before the occupant wakes up each morning, then predictions can be made regarding when the occupant is going to wake. Other devices in the home can use these predictions to provide other smart-home objectives, such as adjusting the smart thermostat 102 so as to pre-heat or cool the home to the occupant's desired setting before the occupant wakes up. Further, these predictions can be used to set the “smart alarm clock” for the occupant, to turn on lights, etc.
According to embodiments, technologies including the sensors of the smart devices located throughout the smart-home environment in combination with rules-based inference engines or artificial intelligence provided at the central server or cloud-computing system 164 are used to detect or monitor the progress of Alzheimer's Disease. For example, the unique signatures of the occupants are used to track the individual occupants' movement throughout the smart-home environment 100. This data can be aggregated and analyzed to identify patterns indicative of Alzheimer's. Oftentimes, individuals with Alzheimer's have distinctive patterns of migration in their homes. For example, a person will walk to the kitchen and stand there for a while, then to the living room and stand there for a while, and then back to the kitchen. This pattern will take about thirty minutes, and then the person will repeat the pattern. According to embodiments, the remote servers or cloud computing architectures 164 analyze the person's migration data collected by the mesh network of the smart-home environment to identify such patterns.
Although in some examples provided herein, the devices and services platform 200 communicates with and collects data from the smart devices of smart-home environment 100 of
The central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can further provide one or more services 204. The services 204 can include, e.g., software updates, customer support, sensor data collection/logging, remote access, remote or distributed control, or use suggestions (e.g., based on collected home data 202 to improve performance, reduce utility cost, etc.). Data associated with the services 204 can be stored at the central server or cloud-computing system 164 and the central server or the cloud-computing system 164 can retrieve and transmit the data at an appropriate time (e.g., at regular intervals, upon receiving a request from a user, etc.).
As illustrated in
Results of the analysis or statistics can thereafter be transmitted back to the device that provided home data used to derive the results, to other devices, to a server providing a webpage to a user of the device, or to other non-device entities. For example, use statistics, use statistics relative to use of other devices, use patterns, and/or statistics summarizing sensor readings can be generated by the processing engine 206 and transmitted. The results or statistics can be provided via the Internet 162. In this manner, the processing engine 206 can be configured and programmed to derive a variety of useful information from the home data 202. A single server can include one or more engines.
The derived data can be highly beneficial at a variety of different granularities for a variety of useful purposes, ranging from explicit programmed control of the devices on a per-home, per-neighborhood, or per-region basis (for example, demand-response programs for electrical utilities), to the generation of inferential abstractions that can assist on a per-home basis (for example, an inference can be drawn that the homeowner has left for vacation and so security detection equipment can be put on heightened sensitivity), to the generation of statistics and associated inferential abstractions that can be used for government or charitable purposes. For example, processing engine 206 can generate statistics about device usage across a population of devices and send the statistics to device users, service providers or other entities (e.g., that have requested or may have provided monetary compensation for the statistics).
According to some embodiments, the home data 202, the derived home data 208, and/or another data can be used to create “automated neighborhood safety networks.” For example, in the event the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 receives data indicating that a particular home has been broken into, is experiencing a fire, or some other type of emergency event, an alarm is sent to other smart homes in the “neighborhood.” In some instances, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 automatically identifies smart homes within a radius of the home experiencing the emergency and sends an alarm to the identified homes. In such instances, the other homes in the “neighborhood” do not have to sign up for or register to be a part of a safety network, but instead are notified of an emergency based on their proximity to the location of the emergency. This creates robust and evolving neighborhood security watch networks, such that if one person's home is getting broken into, an alarm can be sent to nearby homes, such as by audio announcements via the smart devices located in those homes. It should be appreciated that this can be an opt-in service and that, in addition to or instead of the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 selecting which homes to send alerts to, individuals can subscribe to participate in such networks and individuals can specify which homes they want to receive alerts from. This can include, for example, the homes of family members who live in different cities, such that individuals can receive alerts when their loved ones in other locations are experiencing an emergency.
According to some embodiments, sound, vibration, and/or motion sensing components of the smart devices are used to detect sound, vibration, and/or motion created by running water. Based on the detected sound, vibration, and/or motion, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 makes inferences about water usage in the home and provides related services. For example, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can run programs/algorithms that recognize what water sounds like and when it is running in the home. According to one embodiment, to map the various water sources of the home, upon detecting running water, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 sends a message an occupant's mobile device asking if water is currently running or if water has been recently run in the home and, if so, which room and which water-consumption appliance (e.g., sink, shower, toilet, etc.) was the source of the water. This enables the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 to determine the “signature” or “fingerprint” of each water source in the home. This is sometimes referred to herein as “audio fingerprinting water usage.”
In one illustrative example, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 creates a signature for the toilet in the master bathroom, and whenever that toilet is flushed, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 will know that the water usage at that time is associated with that toilet. Thus, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can track the water usage of that toilet as well as each water-consumption application in the home. This information can be correlated to water bills or smart water meters so as to provide users with a breakdown of their water usage.
According to some embodiments, sound, vibration, and/or motion sensing components of the smart devices are used to detect sound, vibration, and/or motion created by mice and other rodents as well as by termites, cockroaches, and other insects (collectively referred to as “pests”). Based on the detected sound, vibration, and/or motion, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 makes inferences about pest-detection in the home and provides related services. For example, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can run programs/algorithms that recognize what certain pests sound like, how they move, and/or the vibration they create, individually and/or collectively. According to one embodiment, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can determine the “signatures” of particular types of pests.
For example, in the event the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 detects sounds that may be associated with pests, it notifies the occupants of such sounds and suggests hiring a pest control company. If it is confirmed that pests are indeed present, the occupants input to the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 confirms that its detection was correct, along with details regarding the identified pests, such as name, type, description, location, quantity, etc. This enables the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 to “tune” itself for better detection and create “signatures” or “fingerprints” for specific types of pests. For example, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can use the tuning as well as the signatures and fingerprints to detect pests in other homes, such as nearby homes that may be experiencing problems with the same pests. Further, for example, in the event that two or more homes in a “neighborhood” are experiencing problems with the same or similar types of pests, the central server or cloud-computing architecture 164 can make inferences that nearby homes may also have such problems or may be susceptible to having such problems, and it can send warning messages to those homes to help facilitate early detection and prevention.
In some embodiments, to encourage innovation and research and to increase products and services available to users, the devices and services platform 200 expose a range of application programming interfaces (APIs) 210 to third parties, such as charities 222, governmental entities 224 (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency), academic institutions 226 (e.g., university researchers), businesses 228 (e.g., providing device warranties or service to related equipment, targeting advertisements based on home data), utility companies 230, and other third parties. The APIs 210 are coupled to and permit third-party systems to communicate with the central server or the cloud-computing system 164, including the services 204, the processing engine 206, the home data 202, and the derived home data 208. For example, the APIs 210 allow applications executed by the third parties to initiate specific data processing tasks that are executed by the central server or the cloud-computing system 164, as well as to receive dynamic updates to the home data 202 and the derived home data 208.
For example, third parties can develop programs and/or applications, such as web or mobile apps, that integrate with the central server or the cloud-computing system 164 to provide services and information to users. Such programs and application may be, for example, designed to help users reduce energy consumption, to preemptively service faulty equipment, to prepare for high service demands, to track past service performance, etc., or to perform any of a variety of beneficial functions or tasks now known or hereinafter developed.
According to some embodiments, third-party applications make inferences from the home data 202 and the derived home data 208, such inferences may include when are occupants home, when are they sleeping, when are they cooking, when are they in the den watching television, and when do they shower. The answers to these questions may help third-parties benefit consumers by providing them with interesting information, products and services as well as with providing them with targeted advertisements.
In one example, a shipping company creates an application that makes inferences regarding when people are at home. The application uses the inferences to schedule deliveries for times when people will most likely be at home. The application can also build delivery routes around these scheduled times. This reduces the number of instances where the shipping company has to make multiple attempts to deliver packages, and it reduces the number of times consumers have to pick up their packages from the shipping company.
The processing engine 206 can include a challenges/rules/compliance/rewards paradigm 310 d that informs a user of challenges, competitions, rules, compliance regulations and/or rewards and/or that uses operation data to determine whether a challenge has been met, a rule or regulation has been complied with and/or a reward has been earned. The challenges, rules or regulations can relate to efforts to conserve energy, to live safely (e.g., reducing exposure to toxins or carcinogens), to conserve money and/or equipment life, to improve health, etc. For example, one challenge may involve participants turning down their thermostat by one degree for one week. Those that successfully complete the challenge are rewarded, such as by coupons, virtual currency, status, etc. Regarding compliance, an example involves a rental-property owner making a rule that no renters are permitted to access certain owner's rooms. The devices in the room having occupancy sensors could send updates to the owner when the room is accessed.
The processing engine 206 can integrate or otherwise utilize extrinsic information 316 from extrinsic sources to improve the functioning of one or more processing paradigms. Extrinsic information 316 can be used to interpret data received from a device, to determine a characteristic of the environment near the device (e.g., outside a structure that the device is enclosed in), to determine services or products available to the user, to identify a social network or social-network information, to determine contact information of entities (e.g., public-service entities such as an emergency-response team, the police or a hospital) near the device, etc., to identify statistical or environmental conditions, trends or other information associated with a home or neighborhood, and so forth.
An extraordinary range and variety of benefits can be brought about by, and fit within the scope of, the described extensible devices and services platform 200, ranging from the ordinary to the profound. Thus, in one “ordinary” example, each bedroom of the smart-home environment 100 can be provided with a smart wall switch 108, a smart wall plug 110, and/or smart hazard detectors 104, all or some of which include an occupancy sensor, wherein the occupancy sensor is also capable of inferring (e.g., by virtue of motion detection, facial recognition, audible sound patterns, etc.) whether the occupant is asleep or awake. If a serious fire event is sensed, the remote security/monitoring service or fire department is advised of how many occupants there are in each bedroom, and whether those occupants are still asleep (or immobile) or whether they have properly evacuated the bedroom. While this is, of course, a very advantageous capability accommodated by the described extensible devices and services platform, there can be substantially more “profound” examples that can truly illustrate the potential of a larger “intelligence” that can be made available. By way of perhaps a more “profound” example, the same bedroom occupancy data that is being used for fire safety can also be “repurposed” by the processing engine 206 in the context of a social paradigm of neighborhood child development and education. Thus, for example, the same bedroom occupancy and motion data discussed in the “ordinary” example can be collected and made available (properly anonymized) for processing in which the sleep patterns of schoolchildren in a particular ZIP code can be identified and tracked. Localized variations in the sleeping patterns of the schoolchildren may be identified and correlated, for example, to different nutrition programs in local schools.
Intelligent Thermostat System for Boiler-Based Heating Systems
In this portion of the disclosure, an intelligent thermostat system for boiler-based heating systems will be presented. As used herein, the term “intelligent thermostat system” may refer to an environmental control system that is configured to measure and regulate a temperature within an enclosure by controlling one or more operations associated with a boiler-based heating system. In some embodiments, an intelligent thermostat system may include multiple components or devices that are distributed throughout an enclosure. For example, an intelligent thermostat system may include a head unit, a backplate, the base unit, and/or a reflective stand. Each of these components or combination of components may be distributed in different locations throughout the enclosure and may communicate using wired and/or wireless communication techniques.
Heated water or water vapor from the boiler 416 may be circulated throughout the enclosure 400 into one or more radiators 410. In some homes, each room may be equipped with its own radiator to provide localized heat. In other homes, radiators may be strategically placed throughout the enclosure to optimally heat the surrounding environment. Each radiator 410 may operate as a heat exchanger used to transfer thermal energy from the heated water provided from the boiler into the air within the enclosure 400. Single-type radiators are usually configured to work with either heated steam or water vapor, while double-type radiators are usually configured to work with both heated steam and heated water. Pump systems (not shown) may be co-located with the boiler 416 in order to continuously pump water through the radiators 410 during times when the boiler 416 is instructed to provide heat to the enclosure 400. Water can be pumped from the boiler 416 to the radiator 410 through a hot water line 440. As heat is exchanged between the radiator 410 and the environment of the enclosure 400, the water exiting the radiator 410 may have cooled substantially. The cooled water can exit the radiator 410 and return to the boiler 416 through a cold water return line 442.
Each of the radiators 410 may be provided with a means for exercising local control over the amount of heat provided by the radiator 410. Some radiators may include a control valve 408 on the radiator 410 that is configured to regulate the flow of heated water through the radiator 410. As the valve 408 is opened, the heated water flow through radiator 410 will increase, thereby causing the radiator 410 to heat the room more effectively. Conversely, as the valve 408 is closed, the heated water flow through the radiator 410 will decrease, thereby causing the radiator 410 to heat the room less effectively. It may be useful to consider the control valve 408 as analogous to local vent controls on a forced air system that would be found in the United States. Just as vent controls allow users to regulate the flow of heated air into a particular room in a forced air system, each control valve 408 allows users to regulate the heat of the radiator 410. In some cases, the control valve 408 may comprise a thermostatic radiator control valve (TRV) that automatically regulates the pressure in the radiator 410 according to a desired temperature that is mechanically specified using a dial or knob on the control valve 408. The TRV could also have electromechanical control, which, in various embodiments, may facilitate advanced features such as scheduling or remote control to be controlled by an intelligent thermostat system. The TRV can then detect the local air temperature and regulate the flow of hot water/steam through the radiator 410, depending on the temperature of the room.
In addition to the local temperature control provided by a control valve 408, additional controls may be located throughout the enclosure 400, including at or near the boiler 416. The simplest boiler control is an on/off switch for the boiler 416. Turning on the boiler on/off switch can activate a heating function and begin heating water/steam. For example, the boiler 416 can ignite a gas-based burner to begin heating water within its reservoir. In other boilers, turning on the boiler on/off switch can place the boiler in a standby mode to await a command from a programmer 420. Some boilers also include separate temperature controls for controlling the temperature of the water/steam. This allows the user to control the temperature of the water/steam as it leaves the boiler 416 to supply heat to the enclosure 400. Generally, the temperature controls for the boiler 416 will be set hotter in the winter and cooler in the summer.
In order to conserve energy, the programmer 420 may act as a gateway device that automatically controls the times during which the boiler 416 will actively heat water/steam. In some embodiments, a homeowner may wish to automatically turn off the boiler 416 during the day when the enclosure 400 is unoccupied. The homeowner may also desire to automatically activate the boiler 416 during times when the enclosure 400 is expected to be occupied. For example, the programmer 420 may comprise a timer that automatically turns the boiler off between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Thus when a homeowner returns from work at approximately 5:00 PM, the boiler 416 will be on and ready to supply heated water/steam to the enclosure 400. The programmer 420 may be as simple as mechanical timer or complex enough to set heating schedules for individual days.
The boiler 416 shown in
In some cases, the programmer 420 may provide the primary means by which a user may regulate the temperature within the enclosure 400. For example, the user may set the programmer 420 to activate the boiler 420 for a few hours in order to keep the enclosure 400 warm. In some embodiments, this may be done at regularly scheduled intervals according to a schedule programmed manually for the enclosure 400. However, this method of controlling the operation of the boiler 416 is very coarse at best, and is not generally a reliable method of environmental temperature control, particularly as seasons change and outdoor weather effects affect the enclosure 400 differently throughout the year.
In order to provide more fine-grained control for heating the enclosure 400, one or more thermostats 404 may be provided that are communicatively coupled to the programmer 420 and/or the boiler 416. In the configuration illustrated by
The thermostat 404 may be connected directly to the programmer 420 as illustrated in
In some configurations, each zone may be equipped with its own thermostat 404. Typically, a thermostat 404 will be hardwired to the programmer 420 using wires that are hidden within the walls of the enclosure and/or within conduit attached to the walls. By providing a thermostat 404 with power from the mains AC power source, the thermostat 404 can both be powered by and communicate through the wired connection 406. Although not as common, some boiler-based heating systems may also utilize wireless communications between a thermostat and the programmer 420. A thermostat communicating with the programmer 420 via a wireless connection is not connected to the programmer 420 via a wired connection. Therefore, the thermostat 402 must receive power from an alternative power source, such as a local power outlet or primary-cell batteries. A detailed description of an enclosure with multiple zones and corresponding zone valves will be provided below in relation to
While the simple system described in
One problem with the embodiment illustrated in
Generally, the base unit 446 may be co-located with the boiler 416 and may be used to interface directly with the boiler controls. In contrast, the intelligent thermostat 444 may be configured to perform advanced scheduling algorithms, time-to-temperature algorithms, environmental control algorithms, sunlight compensation algorithms, occupancy detection algorithms, and/or the like. The intelligent thermostat 444 may also be configured to communicate with the smart home system described herein comprising hazard detectors and other devices within a smart home environment. The intelligent thermostat 444 may also be configured to perform the functions of the programmer 420 in controlling when the boiler 416 is actively heating water/steam.
In the configuration of
Similarly, the mains AC power supply may be connected to any combination of the programmer 420, the base unit 446, and/or the boiler 416 in series or in parallel, depending on the particular installation. In order to operate with the base unit 446, the programmer 420 may be set such that the programmer is always “on.” In one embodiment, an installation manual included with the intelligent thermostat system may include a sticker provided for the user to place on the programmer 420. The sticker may include instructions, notifications, or warnings that indicate to the user that the programmer 420 should be left on such that the intelligent thermostat system may operate as intended. In some embodiments, the base unit 446 could have separate control channels for heating and hot water, thus comprising all functionality of the previous programmer and allowing a configuration as shown in
Generally, when an intelligent thermostat system includes a base unit 446 as described herein, the programmer 420 can be bypassed or otherwise neutralized with respect to the central heating (CH) function. The programmer 420 can either be disconnected and removed from the boiler-based heating system, or wiring connections can be made such that the programmer 420 simply passes signals through from the base unit 446 to the boiler 416. For example, many modern combi-boilers include an integrated programmer that cannot be simply removed from the system. In these embodiments, the programmer 420 can be wired or configured such that the programmer 420 is always in an “on” state. This can include shorting actual wired connections, and/or manipulating settings on the programmer 420.
In cases where the programmer 420 does not control a hot water heater for laundry/bathing, some embodiments will remove the programmer 420 during installation of the intelligent thermostat system. In this case, the base unit 446 can communicate directly with the boiler 416, and in some cases can regulate the flow of power from the mains AC power source to the boiler 416. The base unit 446 can be configured with one or more switches, such as relays, triacs, and/or power FETs to switch the 220 VAC signals required to control the boiler 416. The base unit 446 can also be configured to convert and regulate the 220 VAC signals for use in other parts of the system; e.g., it may be configured to convert the signals into lower voltage DC signals that can be used to power the intelligent thermostat 444. Therefore, user interactions may mainly involve the intelligent thermostat 444. In contrast, the base unit 446 can operate largely independent of user interactions by receiving instructions from the intelligent thermostat 444. Thus, the user can control the operation of the boiler 416 without having to adjust the programmer 420, if the programmer 420 is still connected. The programmer functions can instead be implemented using the intelligent thermostat 444.
As illustrated in
As described above, combi-boiler systems combine the provisioning of demand hot water (DHW) destined for domestic use and the provisioning of call-for-heat (CH) hot water destined for radiators into the same physical boiler system. By way of contrast, the embodiment of
In this embodiment, the zone valves 504 are shown as being separate for the cylinder 502 and each of the zones. However, in some embodiments, one or more of the zone valve 504 may be combined into a single multifunction unit. For example, a mid-position valve (not shown) can be used that will provide multiple flow configurations. One midposition valve can allow heated steam/water to flow to (1) a radiator 410 in a particular zone, (2) to the cylinder 502, or (3) to both the particular radiator 410 and the cylinder 502 simultaneously.
The wiring illustrated in
It should also be noted that many boiler-based heating systems use a junction box into which all of the wiring connections illustrated by
Another advantage gained by a modular intelligent thermostat system 600 involves ease of installation. During installation, and after removal of the old thermostat, two wires will generally be exposed protruding from the wall of the enclosure. These wires can be inserted into the wire connections of the backplate 604 through the center hole. The backplate 604 can then be screwed to the wall and the head unit 602 can then be secured to the backplate 604. The base unit 606 can be installed in close proximity to the boiler 416 and attached to an existing wired connection and/or wirelessly paired with the head unit 602.
This modular design also allows the high-power 220 VAC signals from the mains AC power source to be isolated near the boiler 416. This eliminates the need for high voltages to run through wires within the home, thus eliminating a possible fire hazard. Additionally, the lower voltage sent to the wire connection by the base unit 606 will pose less of a danger to the installer of the thermostat comprising the backplate 604 and the head unit 602. The base unit 606 can take the 220 VAC power supply and regulate/reduce it to a safer DC level, such as 12 VDC. This allows the head unit 602 and the backplate 604 to operate at lower DC voltages, while the base unit 606 can interact with the boiler 416 at higher AC voltages.
In order to understand the operation in the interaction between each of the three modules of the intelligent thermostat system 600 (the head unit 602, the backplate 604, and the base unit 606), each of these modules will be discussed individually below. A description of the intelligent thermostat comprised of the head unit 602 and the backplate 604 will be described first, followed by individual descriptions of the head unit 602, the backplate 604, and then the base unit 606.
By rotation of the outer ring 706, or ring rotation, and inward pushing of the outer ring 706, or inward click, the intelligent thermostat 700 can receive some or all of the necessary information from the user for basic setup and operation. The outer ring 706 is mechanically mounted in a manner that provides a smooth yet viscous feel to the user, for further promoting an overall feeling of elegance while also reducing spurious or unwanted rotational inputs. To summarize, the intelligent thermostat 700 may be operable to recognize a variety of user inputs, such as: (1) ring rotate left, (2) ring rotate right, and (3) inward click. In other implementations, more complex fundamental user inputs can be recognized, such as double-click or triple-click inward presses, along with speed-sensitive or acceleration-sensitive rotational inputs.
Although being formed from a single lens-like piece of material such as polycarbonate, the cover 914 has two different regions or portions including an outer portion 914-1 that is painted or smoked and a central portion 914-2 that is visibly clear so as to facilitate viewing of an electronic display 916 disposed thereunder. According to one embodiment in which the diameter of the intelligent thermostat 900 is about 80 mm, the diameter of the electronic display 916 is about 45 mm. A second downwardly-tilted PIR sensor 952 is provided to detect an approaching user, i.e., a person who is close enough that they may be intending to physically interact with the intelligent thermostat 900 and/or may be intending to read the electronic display 916. The proximity sensor 952 can be used to detect proximity in the range of about one meter so that the intelligent thermostat 900 can initiate “waking up” when the user is approaching the thermostat. Such use of proximity sensing is useful for enhancing the user experience by being “ready” for interaction or viewing as soon as, or very soon after, the user is ready to interact with or view the thermostat. Further, the wake-on-proximity functionality also allows for energy savings within the thermostat by allowing the electronic display 916 and certain of its internal components to “sleep” when no user interaction or viewing is taking place or about to take place.
The intelligent thermostat 900 further includes a processing system (not shown in
Battery assembly 1132 includes a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery 1122, which for one preferred embodiment has a nominal voltage of 3.7 volts and a nominal capacity of 560 mAh. To extend battery life, however, the battery 1122 is normally not charged beyond 450 mAh by the thermostat battery charging circuitry. Moreover, although the battery 1122 is rated to be capable of being charged to 4.2 volts, the thermostat battery charging circuitry normally does not charge it beyond 3.95 volts. Battery assembly 1132 also includes connecting wires 1166, and a battery mounting film 1164 that is attached to battery 1122 using a strong adhesive and to the rear shielding can 1156 of head unit PCB 1154 using a relatively weaker adhesive. By using a weaker adhesive to mount the film 1164 of battery assembly 1132 to shielding can 1156 of the PCB 1154, subsequent replacement of battery assembly 1132 (including battery 1122) is facilitated. According to some embodiments, the battery assembly 1132 is user-replaceable.
Also visible in
Head unit PCB 1154 further includes the PIR mini-board 1260 that is screw-mounted thereto (screws not shown) below the plane thereof, the PIR mini-board 1260 for supporting the forward-facing (occupancy detecting) PIR detector 950, and the diagonally-downward-facing (proximity detecting) PIR detector 952, such that each of the PIR detectors protrudes through an inwardly extending opening of the head unit PCB 1154. By way of example and not by way of limitation, the forward-facing (occupancy detecting) PIR detector 950 may be a PYD 1794 pyroelectric detector, and the diagonally-downward-facing (proximity detecting) PIR detector 952 can be a PYD 5731 pyroelectric detector, both available from Excelitas Technologies Corp.
Head unit PCB 1154 further includes a physical/electrical connector 1322 that mounts thereto inside of an inwardly facing recess along a perimeter thereof. Mateably attached to the physical/electrical connector 1322 is a daughterboard 1324 that, when so attached, rises perpendicular to the head unit PCB 1154 (i.e., in the z-direction in
Head unit PCB further includes, inside the RF shielding 1156, battery charging circuitry 1334, preferably including an LTC4085-4 chip available from Linear Technologies Corporation, or other devices or circuitry that provides equivalent functionality and advantages. The LTC4085-4 is a USB power manager and Li-Ion/Polymer battery charger chip originally developed for portable battery-powered applications. Head unit PCB 1154 further includes main power management circuitry 1336 including DC/DC step-down conversion and voltage regulation circuitry. Head unit PCB 1154 further includes piezoelectric driving circuitry 1345 for actuating a piezoelectric buzzer that is mounted on a bottom surface of a top lid of the RF shielding 1156, for providing optional audible sounds such as a “tick” sound responsive to user ring rotations. Head unit PCB 1154 further includes display backlight voltage generation circuitry 1338.
Slotted openings 1351 and 1353 are provided in the head unit PCB 1154 to facilitate mechanical assembly including providing space for ribbon cables, such as a ribbon cable that runs from the back side of head unit PCB 1154 to the LCD module 1162 (see
In addition to physical divisions within the thermostat that simplify the installation process, the thermostat may also be divided functionally between the head unit and the backplate.
In this embodiment, a processing function on the head unit may be implemented by an ARM processor. The head unit processing function may interface with the electronic display 1402, an audio system 1404, and a manipulation sensor 1406 as a part of a user interface 1408. The head unit processing function may also facilitate wireless communications 1410 by interfacing with various wireless modules, such as a Wi-Fi module 1412 and/or a ZigBee-style module 1414. Furthermore, the head unit processing function may be configured to control the core thermostat operations 1416, such as operating the HVAC system. The head unit processing function may further be configured to determine or sense occupancy 1418 of a physical location, and to determine building characteristics 1420 that can be used to determine time-to-temperature characteristics. Using the occupancy sensing 1418, the processing function on the head unit may also be configured to learn and manage operational schedules 1422, such as diurnal heat and cooling schedules. A power management module 1462 may be used to interface with a corresponding power management module on the backplate and/or base unit, the rechargeable battery, and a power control circuit 1464.
Additionally, the head unit processing function may include and/or be communicatively coupled to one or more memories. The one or more memories may include one or more sets of instructions that cause the processing function to operate as described above. The one or more memories may also include a sensor history and global state objects 1424. The one or more memories may be integrated with the processing function, such as a flash memory or RAM memory available on many commercial microprocessors. The head unit processing function may also include a cloud management interface 1426 configured to interface with a cloud management system, and may also operate to conserve energy and/or facilitate gaming 1428 wherever appropriate. An interface 1432 to a backplate processing function 1430 may also be included, and may be implemented using a hardware connector.
One particularly advantageous feature of the head unit is its ability to operate with different types of backplates. For example, the head unit described above can be coupled with a backplate that is configured to accept wire connections from a forced air HVAC system. The head unit can be coupled to a backplate that accepts connections from an HVAC system comprising an air conditioner, a humidifier, a forced air heating system, a radiant flooring system, and/or the like. This particular backplate may also be configured to harvest power from an HVAC system by stealing power from an HVAC call relay wire. Additionally or alternatively, the backplate may be configured to operate using a common “C” wire from the HVAC system.
In the intelligent thermostat system for boiler-based systems, the head unit can be coupled to a backplate that is simpler than the backplate described above for forced air HVAC systems.
After installation of the wires connecting the backplate 1500 to the base unit, the backplate 1500 can be mounted to, for example, a wall of the enclosure. The backplate 1500 can be mounted through screw holes 1504 on the sides of the backplate 1500. The opening for the screw holes 1504 on the front side of the backplate 1500 (
In some installations, the backplate 1500 will not be connected to a base unit via a wired connection. Therefore, the base unit cannot provide power to the backplate 1500 through the insertion points 1506. In order to receive power, the backplate 1500 can include a USB port 1507 that can accept a micro USB connector that provides power to the backplate 1500 and head unit. The micro USB connector can be wired to a USB power converter brick that is well-known in the art, which can in turn be inserted into a traditional AC outlet. As with the two-wire installation, the wire for the USB connector can be routed through the groove 1502 in the backside of the backplate 1500.
Once the backplate 1500 is mounted to the wall, the head unit can be connected to the backplate. Connecting the backplate 1500 to the head unit can include connecting a connector on the head unit (shown in
To maximize the amount of time for which the relatively high-powered head unit processor can remain in a low-power sleep state, the relatively low-powered backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 may control and poll not only the sensors contained in the backplate 1500, but also control and poll most of the sensors contained in the head unit. For one embodiment, in addition to controlling and polling a temperature/humidity sensor chip 1718 contained on the backplate circuit board 1604, the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 can also control and poll any or all sensors contained in the head unit with the possible exception of the optical finger navigation (OFN) module in some embodiments. As such, the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 controls and polls the following components of the head unit: the first temperature sensor, the second temperature sensor, the ambient light sensor (ALS), the forward-facing (occupancy detecting) PIR detector, and the diagonally-downward-facing (proximity detecting) PIR detector. Electrical connectivity between the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 and the subject head unit sensors is achieved using a 20-pin connector 1710, along with one or more port expanders on the head unit circuit board, by which the electrical connections are established when the head unit is mated to the backplate. Backplate circuit board 1604 may further comprise a timing crystal chip 1720 that may provide, for example, a 32.768 kHz signal that may be used by the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 for timing reference purposes. In other embodiments, an internal oscillator in the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 may be used instead of the timing crystal chip 1720. The backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 performs, in addition to the controlling and polling of the various sensors, sensing for mechanical wire insertion at installation, alerting the head unit regarding current vs. setpoint temperature conditions, and other functions such as looking for appropriate signals on the inserted HVAC wires at installation and thereafter.
Backplate circuit board 1604 further comprises the combined temperature/humidity sensor chip 1718 positioned near a lower periphery thereof. The temperature/humidity sensor chip 1718 can comprise, by way of example and not by way of limitation, a Sensirion SHT20 module. Thermal isolation of the temperature/humidity sensor chip 1718 from the rest of the backplate circuit board 1604 is facilitated by virtue of a through-hole 1722. Further disposed on the backplate circuit board 1604 in an arcuate arrangement neararound a peripheral portion of the center cutout wire connectors 1706 that may include integrated mechanical wire insertion sensing capability in some embodiments.
In backplate circuit boards used to directly control the HVAC functions in intelligent thermostats used in countries such as the United States, encapsulated transformer/diode circuits can be used for transformer-based isolation of the control and logic circuitry from the HVAC connection and switching circuitry. Disposed on the back side of the backplate circuit board (not shown) are field effect transistor (FET) switches (not shown) that perform the HVAC switching functionality and that are electrically disposed on the isolated HVAC connection and switching circuitry side of the transformer/diode circuits (not shown). The FET switches perform, inter alia, the basic closing and opening between the requisite HVAC terminals according to the desired HVAC function. One or more of the FET switches (not shown) are also judiciously configured and controlled to facilitate power stealing during active HVAC cycles for circumstances in which there is no “C-wire” available to power the thermostat. The use of FETs in the switching circuitry allows for active power stealing, i.e., taking power during the HVAC ON cycle, by briefly diverting power from the HVAC relay circuit to the reservoir capacitors for a very small interval, such as 100 micro-seconds. This time is small enough not to trip the HVAC relay into the OFF state but is sufficient to charge up the reservoir capacitors. The use of FETs allows for this fast switching time (100 micro-seconds), which would be difficult to achieve using relays (which stay on for tens of milliseconds). Also, such relays would readily degrade with fast switching, and they would also make audible noise. In contrast, the FETs operate with essentially no audible noise.
In the backplate circuit board 1604 illustrated in
Power can be received from a micro-USB connector 1702, such as the molex micro-USB B receptacle, with mid-mount and through hole solder tab (Molex 47642-1001). Additionally or alternatively, DC power can be received from the base unit through the wire connectors 1706.
Backplate circuit board 1604 further comprises various other DC-power regulation circuitry for providing power that is used by the backplate processor/microcontroller 1716, the environmental sensors controlled thereby, the various other backplate circuit board components, and for providing a DC power rail voltage (e.g., 4.4 VDC) that is input to the battery charging circuitry of the head unit. Such DC-power generation circuitry includes, for example, bootstrap and primary LDO circuitry.
Bridge rectifier circuitry 1704 may include, for example, a 0.5 A SBR bridge super barrier rectifier (Diodes Inc.® part no. SBR05M100BLP), such that the user need not be concerned with matching wires between the wire connector 2010-3 at the base unit 2000 (
The backplate processor/microcontroller 1716 may also include a sensor polling interface 1848 to interface with a plurality of sensors. In this particular embodiment, the plurality of sensors may include temperature sensors, a humidity sensor, PIR sensors, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, and or other sensors not specifically listed. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Other types of sensors may be used depending on the particular embodiment and application, such as sound sensors, flame sensors, smoke detectors, and/or the like. The sensor polling interface 1848 may be communicatively coupled to a sensor reading memory 1850. The sensor reading memory 1850 can store sensor readings and may be located internally or externally to a microcontroller or microprocessor.
Finally, the backplate processing function can include a power management unit 1860 that is used to control various digital and/or analog components integrated with the backplate and used to manage the power system of the thermostat. Although one having skill in the art will recognize many different implementations of a power management system, the power management system of this particular embodiment can include the functions described above in relation to
Having described the connection between the head unit and the backplate, the intelligent thermostat can be assembled and powered as described above. For convenience during installation and operation, multiple installation configurations are possible depending upon the particular type of enclosure, the preference of the homeowner, and/or the condition of existing thermostat circuitry within the enclosure.
Additionally or alternatively, the intelligent thermostat 1902 may use a wireless connection to communicate with the base unit. In some embodiments, the wired connection 1904 may be considered a primary connection, while the wireless connection may be used as a backup connection. Various configurations are possible. In one embodiment, both the wired connection 1904 and the wireless connection may operate in parallel transmitting the same information. In another embodiment, the wired connection may be active during times when the wireless connection is unavailable, for example due to interference, low-power situations, or situations where the intelligent thermostat 1902 is out of wireless range for the radio. In another embodiment, the wired connection 1904 may transmit signals that determine when the boiler should supply heated water/steam to the area monitored by the intelligent thermostat 1902, while the wireless connection transmits more advanced diagnostic information, such as user occupancy patterns, collocated schedules, and/or the like for storage or analysis in the base unit. The base unit may also communicate information back to the thermostat, such as wireless signal strength, input power, relay state, temperature, time since last successful RF communication, number of onboard power cycles since last successful RF communication, and/or other diagnostic data.
In some embodiments, the intelligent thermostat may include a first radio and a second radio. The first radio may be configured for high data rate communications, such as those that take place with a local Wi-Fi network. The second radio may be configured for relatively low data rate communications, such as communications between the thermostat and the base unit. The second radio may be compatible with the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and may use a ZigBee protocol or a similar protocol. The second radio on the thermostat may be compatible with a third radio on the base unit that is also configured for relatively low data rate communications. While the second radio is communicating control signals for the boiler system to the third radio on the base unit, the first radio may transmit auxiliary communications to a local Wi-Fi network. For example, the first radio may transmit sensor data, occupancy data, user commands, and other such auxiliary information to a cloud-based server or network.
Turning now to a detailed description of the base unit,
In some embodiments, at least one external control may be accessible through the front cover 2002. For example, a button 2004 may be provided such that a user can easily provide a limited set of commands to the base unit 2000 without a programming interface. The button 2004 may be large such that is easily identifiable, and may include a logo or trademark of a manufacturer, such as “Nest.” The button 2004 may include a “click” mechanism such that the user can readily determine when depressing the button 2004 has registered a command to the internal circuits of the base unit 2000.
The button 2004 may be used to provide a plurality of commands. In order to immediately call for heat regardless of the temperature, schedule, and/or commands from the intelligent thermostat, a user can depress the button 2004. This can close internal relays of the base unit and activate the boiler system such that heated water/steam is circulated throughout radiators in the enclosure. Similarly, a second depression of the button 2004 can deactivate a call for heat, regardless of whether the original heating command was provided from the button 2004 or from the intelligent thermostat. Additionally, pressing button 2004 and holding it for a duration, such as 3 seconds, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds, may be used to reset the internal circuitry of the base unit 2000 in cases where the user believes a software malfunction has occurred. In some embodiments, other input patterns with button 2004 may be used, such as double-clicks, triple clicks, etc. and button depressions lasting for varying time intervals. These additional input patterns may provide commands that cause the base unit 2002 to wirelessly pair with an intelligent thermostat, commands the cause the base unit 2000 to call for heat for a specified period of time, and/or any other commands that would normally be provided from the intelligent thermostat.
The front cover 2002 can connect to a back cover 2006 of the base unit 2000. The base unit can be mounted flush to the boiler, to a wall near the boiler, and/or to any other surface in proximity to the boiler. Alternatively, the base unit 2000 may be placed on a surface in proximity to the boiler. The base unit 2000 may be mounted through screw holes 2008 that are visible through the back of the back cover 2006, yet covered by the front cover 2002. The front cover 2002 may be coupled to the rest of the base unit 2000 by way of tabs near the top of the front cover 2002 (not shown), and secured in place using a screw mechanism 2003.
The button 2004 may be accessible through a recess 2020 in the body 2018 of the base unit 2000. Next to the button 2004, a light pipe 2056 may direct light from an LED 2030 such that light emitted from the LED is visible through the front cover 2002. The button 2004 may also be mechanically adjacent to a corresponding button 2022 on the base unit circuit board 2016 such that depressing the button 2004 actuates the button 2022 on the base unit circuit board 2016. The base unit circuit board 2016 may include circuitry for switching and/or connecting HVAC functions associated with the boiler system, processor circuitry, wireless and wired communications circuitry, and wire insertion terminals 2010. The base unit circuit board 2016 will be described in greater detail below. The base unit circuit board 2016 can be secured to the back cover 2006 through screw holes in the base unit circuit board 2016, and the body 2018 and button 2004 can be secured to the back cover 2006. As described above, the front cover 2002 can be secured to the body 2018 using a combination of the tabs 2024 at the top of the body 2018 and a screw mechanism (not visible) at the bottom of the body 2018.
The base unit circuit board 2016 may also include a button 2022 that can interface with the button 2004 accessible through the front cover 2002. For example, the button 2004 may be a 4.2 mm×3.2 mm×2.5 mm tactile switch available from Alps (SKRPABE010). The base unit circuit board 2016 may also include a power regulation circuit 2202 that is configured to take the 220 VAC line power input and convert it to DC voltage levels. In this embodiment, a flyback converter may be a suitable converter type for these power levels, although other suitable converters may alternatively be used. As will be understood by one having skill in the art, a flyback converter includes a first phase that charges up a storage element and a second phase that converts power from the storage element into a regulated DC voltage. Many different flyback converter designs are possible. One particular flyback converter design implemented in an embodiment uses a transformer (T1), multiple inductors (L1, L2, L12, etc.) for filtering and emissions reduction, multiple storage capacitors (C2, C3, C5, C6, etc.), and a high-performance AC/DC controller designed to drive an external power bipolar junction transistor (BJT) for peak mode flyback power supplies, such as the iW1707 digital controller available from iWatt®. Additionally, the power regulation circuit 2202 may include DC conversion circuits and filtering circuits configured to provide the DC voltage for the wired connection to the intelligent thermostat through the wire connectors 2010-3 as well as power for the base unit microcontroller and radio. This may include a 4.4 V converter, a 1.8 V buck converter (e.g., TPS62170 available from Texas Instruments®), one or more single slew rate controlled load switches (e.g., AP 2281 from Diodes Inc.®), a 6LoWPAN Pi Filter, and a 6LoWPAN FEM load switch. The base unit circuit board 2016 may also include a USB connector 2204 (e.g., Molex 105133-0031). The USB connector 2204 can be used to program the base unit processor/microcontroller 2206 and/or base unit radio 2208, and power the associated circuitry during such programming.
The base unit processor/microcontroller 2206 may be any available microcontroller or microprocessor. For example, in this embodiment, the base unit processor/microcontroller 2206 uses a 32-bit microcontroller based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core which includes high-speed USB 2.0, flash memory, and integrated ADC, such as the Kinetis K60 family of microcontrollers from Freescale Semiconductor. The base unit processor/microcontroller 2206 may be programmed through a JTAG/UART debug ZIF connector. Additionally, the base unit circuit board 2016 may include a radio 2208 in order to establish wireless communications with the radio in the head unit of the intelligent thermostat. For example, the base unit circuit board 2016 may include a wireless integrated 802.15.4 compatible radio, such as the EM357 chip available from Silicon Labs®. The radio 2208 may operate in conjunction with a wireless front end module 2210, such as the SE2432L RF front end module by Skyworks®. In order to isolate the digital noise from the base unit processor/microcontroller 2206, and to isolate RF noise generated by the radio 2208 and front end module 2210, the base unit circuit board 2016 may include metal shielding 2220 around each of these components. The base unit may also include one or more temperature sensor, which may comprise a discrete thermistor, a thermocouple, and/or an integrated circuit. The temperature sensor(s) may or may not include an integrated humidity sensor. The temperature sensor(s) may be integrated into a microcontroller or radio IC. A temperature measured by the temperature sensor(s) may be reported back to the head unit periodically and/or upon the occurrence of an anomalous condition.
The radio communications may operate using an IEEE 802.15.4 protocol compliant communication scheme. In some embodiments, the ZigBee standard, which is built on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol, may be used in communication. In one embodiment, a proprietary communication scheme may be used that is built on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol yet avoids the ZigBee-specific features. For example, the “Thread” protocol developed by Nest Labs, Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. may be used for wireless communication between the base unit and the intelligent thermostat as described in U.S. Ser. No. 13/926,312, supra. This particular communication protocol requires that the radio 2208 in the base unit be paired with the radio in the intelligent thermostat. This pairing may be done before the intelligent thermostat system is sold to a consumer. The pairing may also be done after installation using an electronic device interface such as a smart phone interface, the button 2004 on the backplate, and/or any of the USB terminals on the intelligent thermostat or base unit. In some embodiments, a mixed protocol may be used that utilizes the “Thread” communication scheme but also operates as a mixed protocol where paired devices can also communicate with a larger network of smart home devices.
The base unit circuit board 2016 also includes a pair of diversity antennas 2212. In this particular embodiment, the diversity antennas 2212 are made of a raised, stamped metal that sits above the base unit circuit board 2016. It is been discovered by the inventors that mounting the base unit 2000 directly to a boiler often involves mounting the base unit 2002 to a large piece of sheet metal. The sheet metal of the boiler often causes interference with antenna reception. Therefore, the diversity antennas 2212 were raised off the circuit board in order to prevent this type of interference and improve the radiation pattern. The raised nature of the diversity antennas 2212 can be seen in
In order to interface with the boiler system, a relatively large relay circuit is used to make connections between the satisfied, common, and call-for-heat wire connections. A power PCB relay 2222, such as the RTB7D012 available from Tyco Electronics® can be used in conjunction with an inductive load driver, such as the NUD3124 from On Semiconductor® to selectively make connections between these wire connections. The power PCB relay 2222 may operate with the regulated 12 VDC output from the flyback converter.
Having described the physical assembly, the circuit components, and the functional operation of the base unit, the various wiring configurations for coupling the base unit to a boiler system will now be described.
A second bank of wire connectors may include a satisfied connector 2312, a common connector 2314, and a call-for-heat connector 2316. Each of these three wire connectors 2312, 2314, 2316, may be coupled to the base unit relay 2304, which may correspond to the power PCB relay 2222 described above. The base unit relay 2304 may short the common connector 2314 to the satisfied connector 2312, the common connector 2314 to the call-for-heat connector 2316, and/or open connections between these three wire connectors 2312, 2314, 2316.
A third set of wire connectors may include a pair of connectors 2318 that provide power from the base unit to the intelligent thermostat. In installations where a wired connection exists or can be installed between the base unit and the intelligent thermostat, the wires may be inserted into the pair of connectors 2318 at the base unit and the corresponding wire insertion points on the intelligent thermostat backplate. The power supply for the thermostat 2306 may come from the regulated power supply in the base unit and provide, for example, 12 VDC to the intelligent thermostat. Note that in installations where no wires are present, the pair of connectors 2318 can remain unconnected.
Note that in this configuration, as well as the other configurations that will be discussed below, the neutral and live mains power lines are connected to the neutral and live inputs of the base unit. This provides input power to the flyback converter of the base unit that is used to power the base unit and converted into DC voltages to power the other components of the intelligent thermostat system. Additionally, each of these configurations may connect the two terminals (T1, T2) to the backplate of the intelligent thermostat 2406 to provide power and/or communications if such wires are present.
As described above, the two-wire connection between the intelligent thermostat backplate and the base unit can be used to provide power, such as 12 VDC, from the base unit to the intelligent thermostat. Additionally, the two-wire connection between the base unit and the backplate can also be used to communicate a call-for-heat command from the intelligent thermostat to the base unit. Special circuitry can be implemented in the backplate to send voltage/current pulses to the base unit to call for heat.
It will be understood by one having skill in the art that many different signaling methodologies may be used to transmit a signal through the two wire connection from the thermostat to the base unit. Using a current pulse train is advantageous because small pulses may reduce the amount of heat generated by the thermostat and may reduce the power required by the intelligent thermostat system as a whole. However, other embodiments may generate sinusoids, step functions, and/or any other type of waveform that could be detected by the base unit in order to effectively communicate a call for heat. Therefore, the current pulse train is merely exemplary and not meant to be limiting. It is also possible to use a variety of modulation/demodulation schemes to transmit information across the wire pair.
In order to reduce the self-heating effect of generating current pulses, each current pulse 2906 may have a relatively small duty cycle and width. For example, each current pulse 2906 could have a 1% duty cycle with a 10 ms width. The rise and fall time on the edges 2908 can be large enough to avoid EMI issues.
In order to detect a train of current pulses signifying a call for heat from the thermostat, the base unit is able to detect when the thermostat draws more current using a current shunt monitor 3012. The current shunt monitor can be used to sense current changes across the shunt independent of the supply voltage. In one embodiment the INA199 family of current shunt monitors available from Texas Instruments® may be used. The output from the current shunt monitor 3012 can be fed into one of the ADC inputs of the base unit processor/microcontroller. A reference level can be established for the current shunt monitor 3012 using resistors organized in series as a voltage divider 3014. By sampling the ADC input, the MCU can then detect instances when the current pulses occur. If a differential ADC input stage is used, the output of current shunt monitor 3012 will be measured relative to the reference set by voltage divider 3014. This may prevent the amplifier from saturating at its negative input rail and allow accurate calibration and measurement of signals close to zero current. The microcontroller may set a comparator reference level in the ADC circuitry to provide an interrupt when the level has been crossed.
One having skill in the art will readily recognize that changing the characteristics of the pulses can be used to encode many different types of information and messages from the thermostat to the base unit. Additionally, signaling circuitry could be placed in the base unit and detection circuitry could be placed in the thermostat in order to achieve bidirectional communication on the power lines. The height of the current pulses may be set to a level that is not normally crossed during regular operation in order to reduce false positive detections. The height of the current pulses may also be set to a level that is above a noise level that is commonly experienced on the power lines. In some embodiments, the thermostat may sample the characteristics of the current on the power line and dynamically adjust the height of the current pulses to be above the noise level while minimizing the power draw by the thermostat communications.
However, users may often walk by the thermostat 3200 without intending to interact with it. In these cases, it may be advantageous for the thermostat 3200 to remain inactive so as not to waste power or distract a user who walks by the thermostat 3200. In order to distinguish between users who are simply near the thermostat and users who intend to interact with the thermostat, the first proximity detector 3204 and the second proximity detector 3206 may be directed in different angles. In this embodiment, the first proximity detector 3204 may be angled towards the floor, while the second proximity detector 3006 may be directed outward from the thermostat 3200.
The dual proximity detector configuration described above works well when the thermostat 3200 is mounted to a wall 3308 of the enclosure. Both proximity detectors are able to readily view the area directly in front of the intelligent thermostat 3200. However, when the thermostat is mounted on a stand and set on a desk, table, bookshelf, and/or the like, as illustrated by
In order to overcome this problem in desktop mounting configurations, a special intelligent thermostat stand has been designed.
The intelligent thermostat stand also includes a reflective surface 3408 at the base of the stand. Reflective surface 3408 is able to reflect energy from the surrounding environment into the first proximity detector that would otherwise not be visible to the first proximity detector. This allows both proximity detectors to have a view of the surrounding environment and be used to detect occupancy patterns and user approach scenarios that indicate a user is likely to interact with the intelligent thermostat. In some embodiments, the thermostat may be secured to the thermostat stand such that the thermostat is tilted upwards forming an angle of between 90° and 110° with the reflective base 3408. The slight tilt may allow for a better reflective pattern and allow more energy to be detected by the first proximity detector. Reflective base 3408 may be constructed using a reflective material. In one embodiment, the reflective base 3408 may be constructed to include a stainless steel or metallic finish. Other embodiments may use any other smooth reflective surface that reflects energy rather than absorbs energy. One embodiment of the thermostat uses passive infrared (PIR) sensors as the proximity detectors. Another embodiment may also use an active infrared sensor or microwave sensor to detect proximity. Each of the sensor types may be configured to work best with a particular type of reflective material that corresponds to the sensor(s) used.
Algorithms were previously developed that use the responses of the two proximity detectors to detect occupancy patterns and/or approaching users intent on interacting with the thermostat. When set on a surface as illustrated in
During the installation of the intelligent thermostat system, the method may include determining whether the thermostat should act as a programmer (3702). This determination may be made using a sequence of user interface displays presented to the user on a user interface of the intelligent thermostat. In some embodiments, the installation process may include an interview-style series of questions that the user can answer by rotating the outer wheel of the head unit and clicking to signify an input. One such question may explicitly ask the user whether a programmer was previously installed in the enclosure. A follow-up question could then ask the user whether they would like the intelligent thermostat system to act as a programmer and control the heating schedule of the boiler.
In another embodiment, determining whether the thermostat should act as a programmer may be made automatically without requiring user input. In configurations where the base unit is connected to the boiler through the programmer, the programmer will cut power to the base unit during times when the boiler is scheduled to turn off by the programmer. In sending routine communications to the base unit, the thermostat can detect that the base unit is unpowered when communications go unanswered. Alternatively, the base unit may detect when it is losing power and may send a message to the thermostat before local power reserves are depleted. Alternatively, if the thermostat is wired to the base unit, it may detect when the low-voltage power is removed, indicating power to the base has been removed. If the thermostat detects that the base unit is unpowered, it can automatically determine that the user intends to continue using the programmer in series with the intelligent thermostat system, and that the intelligent thermostat should not act as a programmer. Alternatively, the user could leave the programmer connected to the intelligent thermostat system during a learning period, during which the thermostat could monitor the operation of the programmer to learn its schedule. In this case, the user could provide input through the user interface of the head unit directing the thermostat to act as a programmer and learn the programmer schedule by monitoring the activity of the existing programmer. The user could then remove the programmer after the learning period is over and the thermostat has detected the programmer schedule.
The method may also include determining a programmer schedule to control the boiler (3704). When the intelligent thermostat system is configured to act as a programmer, it must then determine the times when the user wants the boiler to be off and on. In one embodiment, the user interface of the head unit can continue with the interview-style questions and ask the user about the existing programmer schedule. For example, the user could be asked questions about which days the programmer was on or off, and the hours during those days during which the programmer instructed the boiler to be active. Very complicated schedules may be designed through this user interview process.
Turning back to
After determining the programmer schedule by learning the schedule automatically or receiving the schedule manually from the user, the thermostat may begin operating the activity of the boiler according to the schedule. There may be times during the initial operational period of the intelligent thermostat system when the user wishes to manually call for heat during times when the boiler is off according to the programmer schedule implemented by the thermostat. Therefore, the method may further include receiving a manual heating command from the user (3708). In some instances, the manual heating command may be received through the user interface of the head unit. For example, the user may rotate the body of the head unit and adjust a setpoint temperature. In other instances, the manual heating command may be received at the base unit. For example, the user may press a button accessible on the exterior of the base unit and manually call for heat.
The method may further include determining whether the boiler is on or off according to the programmer schedule (3710). During times when the boiler is on, the thermostat may operate normally and cause the boiler to circulate heated water/steam through the enclosure, for example, by opening a valve to a particular zone controlled by the thermostat. During times when the boiler is off according to the programmer schedule implemented by the thermostat, the base unit can cause the boiler to actively heat water/steam and begin to circulate such through the enclosure. In effect, receiving the manual heating command allows the user to override the preset programmer schedule implemented by the thermostat and call for heat at any time.
In addition to causing the boiler to heat/provide water/steam to the enclosure in response to a manual call for heat, other operations of the thermostat may also be affected according to the programmer schedule implemented by the thermostat. The intelligent thermostat system can use a learning algorithm to automatically establish and adjust setpoint temperatures for regulating the temperature within the enclosure. During the initial operational interval of the thermostat after installation, the learning algorithm can monitor setpoint temperatures as entered by the user and automatically create and schedule setpoint temperatures that are dynamically adjusted over time to mimic the user's setpoint temperatures that were sent manually. After learning the user schedule, the thermostat can automatically adjust the setpoint temperatures based on what it has learned without requiring the user to manually adjust the schedule or manually program the thermostat. One learning algorithm is described in detail in the commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 8,630,740, which is incorporated by reference herein.
Because the learning algorithm uses manual adjustments of the setpoint temperature to create a temperature schedule, each interaction with the thermostat is typically used by the learning algorithm. However, when the thermostat is also implementing a programmer schedule, it is possible that the user will manually call for heat during times when the boiler is off. Some embodiments may disregard the heating command in the learning algorithm (3712) when the boiler is off. In these cases, there is a conflict between what may be a user-implemented programmer schedule and a single interaction with the thermostat. In some embodiments, disregarding the heating commands when the boiler is off may only occur during an initial learning interval of the thermostat's operation. For example, during the first two weeks after installation, manual heating commands may be disregarded by the learning algorithm when the boiler is on, but after two weeks these manual commands may be used by the learning algorithm to adjust both the setpoint temperatures and the programmer schedule implemented by the thermostat. After the initial learning interval, or during times when the boiler is on, the manual heating commands may generally be regarded by the learning algorithm as a valid input and adjust the schedule accordingly (3714).
By using the same schedule as the learning algorithm, the learning algorithm can populate the remaining setpoint temperatures based on user interactions with the thermostat.
For clarity of description, time intervals for which the now-bypassed programmer had previously maintained the boiler in an “off” state are referenced hereinbelow as “previous-programmer-off” time intervals. For further clarity of description, the schedule setpoints corresponding to the previous-programmer-off time intervals, such as the 9 degree C. setpoints of
As described above, pressing the button on the base unit may direct the intelligent thermostat system to begin heating regardless of the state of the boiler. In some embodiments, pressing the button may turn the boiler on and circulate heated water/steam for a predetermined time interval, such as one hour. In other cases, pressing the button may turn the boiler on and circulate heated water/steam until a second press of the button directs the intelligent thermostat system to turn the boiler off again. In other cases, pressing the button may turn the boiler on and may leave the boiler on until the thermostat directs the boiler to turn off according to the temperature setpoint schedule, such as the schedule illustrated in
As described above, an intelligent thermostat system may include many features that rely on gathering user data automatically over time, analyzing the user data with specific algorithms, and implementing thermostat actions based on the analyzed user data. For example, intelligent thermostat systems may use one or more proximity sensors to detect when a home is unoccupied and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. This feature may be referred to as an “auto away” feature. Additionally, a “time-to-temperature” algorithm analyzes the thermal inertia of a room and determines how long it will take to transition the ambient air temperature between temperature setpoints. Other features, such as automatic sunlight correction, automatic self-heating correction, sensor confidence algorithms, user profiles, and/or the like, may rely on learning algorithms based on collected user data. Also, sensor data may measure thermal properties of the enclosure or environmental conditions. User data along with other sensor responses may be referred to herein as “parameters.”
The results of the learning algorithms are typically valid as long as the thermostat stays mounted in the same location, and may occasionally remain valid so long as the thermostat is in the same room of the enclosure. However, when the intelligent thermostat is moved from one room to another room within the enclosure, the thermal characteristics of the room may change, the ability of sensors to correctly detect occupancy patterns and user interactions may change, the effect of other environmental conditions may increase or decrease, and/or the temperature schedule may no longer be relevant. In short, the user data analyzed by the learning algorithms may no longer be valid, and the thermostat features based on the analyzed user data may no longer operate as a user expects.
In order to compensate for thermostat movements, a method may include determining whether the thermostat has changed locations (4002). Determining whether the thermostat has changed locations may include receiving an indication from a user that the thermostat is moved. For example, a menu item on the user display may allow a user to provide input indicating that the thermostat is in a new location. Alternatively or additionally, the thermostat may automatically determine when it has moved based on sensor readings. For example, the intelligent thermostat may include a GPS receiver or accelerometer that could provide movement data alerting one of the processors on the thermostat that thermostat movement has likely occurred. In another example, a radio signal strength may be measured for both the Wi-Fi radio and/or the radio used to communicate between the base unit and the thermostat. Changes in the strength of the radio signal may indicate that the thermostat has moved. In another embodiment, the thermostat can detect a loss of power, such as when a user unplugs the thermostat to move the thermostat to a new room. As power is restored to the thermostat, the thermostat may automatically infer that it has moved, or automatically query the user through the user interface as to whether the thermostat has moved. In another example, an increased level of user activity in interacting with the thermostat, such as manually adjusting setpoint temperatures, may indicate that the environment has changed, i.e. users may notice that the thermostat is not operating as desired and manually adjust the temperature more often in the new room. In another example, the intelligent thermostat may determine that the thermal characteristics of the surrounding environment have changed. If temperature sensors indicate that the heating time is significantly different from the time predicted by a time-to-temperature algorithm the thermostat could automatically determine that the thermostat is in a new thermal environment.
It should be noted that detecting changes in the thermal environment can be used in situations where the thermostat has not itself moved but where the thermal characteristics of the room have changed. For example, users may install new window coverings, users may install new heating options such as radiant flooring or ceiling fans, prolonged seasonal changes may have an effect on the thermal characteristics of the enclosure, and/or the like. In these cases, this method may be used to automatically recalibrate the thresholds and time estimates calculated by the learning algorithms.
After determining whether the thermostat has changed locations (or determining that the thermal characteristics of the enclosure have changed significantly) the method may include invalidating existing location-dependent data sets (4004) and depending upon the situation, different user data sets may be invalidated (and in some cases replaced). For example, if the new location is in a room similar to the old location, the time-to-temperature data may remain valid. If the new location places the thermostat in view of the old location, then the occupancy data may still be valid. In some embodiments, the thermostat can continue operating with thresholds set by the old user data in order to determine which data sets are still valid.
After determining which data sets need to be replaced, the method may additionally include restarting the learning algorithms and collecting new user data (4008). New occupancy patterns can be detected, new thermal characteristics of the enclosure can be determined, and/or the like.
Some embodiments of the intelligent thermostat system may include other features that may be advantageous in certain circumstances. In some embodiments, the base unit may include a temperature/humidity sensor that can be used to detect dangerous conditions. For example, a temperature sensor in the base unit can be used to detect if the boiler is overheating and becoming a fire risk. A humidity sensor can be used to determine basement flooding conditions and/or conditions that may facilitate growth of mold or rot.
Some embodiments may also provide additional antenna options. For example, the internal diversity antennas may be used by default in the base unit along with a hidden antenna port to attach an external antenna with a coaxial feed cable. This allows service professionals to install a higher gain directional antenna if the internal antenna signal is not strong enough. Inserting the external antenna could automatically disable the internal antennas through a mechanical sensing fixture. For example, the external antenna connector could include a screw-down connector that has a mechanical switch to disconnect the pass-through path to the diversity antennas when an external antenna is inserted. In other embodiments, the external antenna connector may include a small shield segment that is not connected to ground. Once the external antenna is attached, the shield will short to ground. This can be detected by the internal processor and the external antenna can be selected. In other embodiments, the external antenna can simply short the antenna feed to ground as part of its construction. This allows the base unit to detect that the feed and ground are shorted once the antenna is screwed in place externally. In other embodiments, attaching the external antenna will change the impedance as seen by the power amplifier, which will change the current consumption of the amplifier. That change could be detected by the internal processor and the external antenna can be selected. In other embodiments, the base unit can use the existing wires in the wall as a waveguide to carry wireless signals to the thermostat. For example, a 2.4 GHz signal transmitted across the power line has been shown to extend wireless communication range and be compatible with wiring such as thermostat cable or plastic shielded 12AWG Romex power cable. This situation may be particularly advantageous when the building material used to separate floors in the enclosure is particularly thick or causes a high-level interference.
The auxiliary antenna may be implemented using many different antenna types. For example, the auxiliary antenna may comprise a monopole antenna, a dipole antenna, a loop antenna, and/or the like. In some embodiments, the auxiliary antenna may comprise a dipole coaxial antenna that is connected to the base unit through a coaxial insertion point. The auxiliary antenna may be connected to the base unit by inserting a jack into a base unit receptacle. The auxiliary antenna may also be connected to the base unit using a mated pair of BNC connectors. In some embodiments, the auxiliary antenna may be screwed into a threaded receptacle in the base unit. Note that these examples are listed for illustrative purposes only, and not meant to be limiting. Any mechanical connection may be used to connect the auxiliary antenna to the base unit.
Connection of the auxiliary antenna can be detected in many different ways. Some embodiments may employ mechanical sensing systems to mechanically detect a physical connection of the auxiliary antenna to the base unit. For example, separation switches or contact switches may be used to detect when the auxiliary antenna is inserted into the base unit, screwed to the base unit, or otherwise coupled to the base unit. Additionally or alternatively, some embodiments may employ electrical sensing systems to electrically detect the presence of an auxiliary antenna. One such electrical sensing system will be described in detail below in relation to
The method may also include disconnecting an onboard antenna (4104). The onboard antenna may be disconnected by activating a mechanical or electrical switch in order to disconnect the onboard antenna from the base unit wireless communication module (including, for example, the base unit radio 2208 and the front end module 2210 from
The method may additionally include transmitting/receiving wireless communications through the auxiliary antenna (4106). Transmitting/receiving wireless communications through the auxiliary antenna may occur automatically once the onboard antenna is disconnected. In some embodiments, the base unit wireless communication module can automatically redirect communications through pins connected to the auxiliary antenna. In some embodiments, the base unit wireless communication module can use a single pin to send/receive wireless transmissions and electrical/mechanical switches outside of the base unit wireless communication module can select between the auxiliary antenna and the onboard antenna.
The method may further include detecting the removal of the auxiliary antenna, reconnecting the onboard antenna, and transmitting/receiving wireless communications through the onboard antenna. Generally, the process of switching from the auxiliary antenna back to the onboard antenna may follow the reverse procedure as described above. For example, electrical/mechanical sensing circuits can detect the removal of the auxiliary antenna, and electrical/mechanical switches can reconnect to the onboard antenna. The base unit wireless communication module can then again begin transmitting/receiving wireless communications through the onboard antenna.
Although this method of switching between an auxiliary antenna and an onboard antenna is described in relation to the intelligent thermostat system of this disclosure, all embodiments need not be so limited. In general, this method of detecting and switching between antennas could be used in any wireless communication system. For example, the smart home depicted in
As described above, the pair of diversity antennas 2212 may be oriented at 90° angles such that one of the pair of diversity antennas 2212 may have better reception than the other. In some embodiments, the wireless communication module 4220 can select one of the pair of diversity antennas 2212 and thereafter communicate through the selected antenna. When switching between an onboard antenna and an auxiliary antenna, the wireless communication module 4220 can use a switch 4218 to disconnect one or both of the pair diversity antennas 2212. The switch 4218 can be implemented with a FET switch or a mechanical relay.
In some embodiments, the auxiliary antenna may comprise a coaxial dipole antenna 4202. The coaxial dipole antenna can be connected to the base unit circuit board 2016 through a BNC connector or any other type of coaxial connector. For purposes of illustration, the coaxial dipole antenna connector is expanded to show connectors 4206 and 4210 for the coaxial dipole antenna 402 that can be mated with the connectors 4208 and 4212 of the base unit circuit board 2016.
In order to detect the connection of the coaxial dipole antenna 4202, connectors 4208 and 4212 can be connected to pins 4222 and 4224 of the wireless communication module 4220, respectively. Pin 4224 can also be connected to a DC voltage, such as Vcc. In some embodiments, pin 4224 can be connected to the voltage through an impedance 4214. Similarly, pin 4222 can be connected to ground, and this connection can be through an impedance 4216 in some embodiments. The ground may comprise a backplane ground and/or a reflective ground for the pair of diversity antennas 2212. For example, the ground may comprise a ground plane on the underside of the base unit circuit board 2016.
When the coaxial dipole antenna 4202 is not connected to the base unit circuit board 2016, the DC voltage at pin 4222 will be approximately ground (0 V). The wireless communication module 4220 can read the voltage at pin 4222, and if the voltage at pin 4222 is approximately ground, then the wireless communication module 4220 can determine that the coaxial dipole antenna 4202 is not connected to the base unit circuit board 2016, and therefore that the wireless communication module 4220 should transmit/receive wireless communications through the pair of diversity antennas 2212 through switch 4218.
The coaxial dipole antenna 4202 may include a circuit element 4204 that connects connector 4210 to connector 4206. The circuit element 4204 may comprise a wire, an inductor, or any other conductive material or circuit element. In some embodiments, the circuit element 4204 can be sized to operate like a quarter-wave (λ/4) impedance transformer. For example, the circuit element 4204 can be sized such that the path from pin 4224 through connectors 4212 and 4210, through circuit element 4204, through connectors 4206 and 4208, to pin 4222 is approximately ½ wavelength. For example, if the wireless commination module 4220 operates at 2.4 GHz corresponding to a wavelength of 12.5 cm, then the circuit element 4204 can be sized such that the length of the path described above can be approximately 6.25 cm. By sizing the circuit element 4204 to operate as a quarter-wave impedance transformer, the circuit element 4204 can provide a DC short between connector 4210 and connector 4206. The λ/4 wave transformer will transform the short circuit into an open circuit which has no effect on the RF signals on the line. Likewise, an open circuit can be transformed into a short circuit for RF signals. Therefore, the circuit element 4204 will look like an open circuit to the RF emissions of the wireless communication module 4220.
When the coaxial dipole antenna 4202 is connected to the base unit circuit board 2016, the DC voltage at pin 4222 will measure a voltage higher than ground. The exact voltage will depend upon the ratio of impedance 4214 and impedance 4216. Thus, the wirelessly communication module 4220 can read the voltage at pin 4222. If this voltage is higher than ground (or close to a known voltage determined by the impedance ratio), then the wireless communication module 4220 can determine that the coaxial dipole antenna 4202 is connected to the base unit circuit board 2016. In response, the wireless communication module 4222 can open switch 4218 and thereby disconnect the pair of diversity antennas 4212. Therefore, when the coaxial dipole antenna 4202 is connected to the base unit circuit board 2016, the circuit element 4204 will provide a short circuit for DC signals, while simultaneously providing an open circuit for RF signals. A single pair of pins 4222 and 4224 can be used to both send and receive RF transmissions from the wireless communication module 4220 and to detect a connection of the coaxial dipole antenna 4202.
The circuit arrangement of
In circuit diagram 4200 b, pin 4224 can be used to detect whether or not the antenna 4232 is connected externally. When the antenna 4232 is disconnected, pin 4224 will sense a Vcc voltage pulled up through impedance 4214. When the antenna 4232 is connected, the antenna 4232 will produce a DC ground at pin 4224 through impedance 4230 and the antenna 4232. As described above, the antenna 4232 can be configured to produce an RF open circuit between connectors 4206 and 4210.
It should be noted that the circuit examples illustrated in
Whereas many alterations and modifications of the present invention will no doubt become apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art after having read the foregoing description, it is to be understood that the particular embodiments shown and described by way of illustration are in no way intended to be considered limiting. Therefore, reference to the details of the preferred embodiments is not intended to limit their scope.
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|International Classification||F24D19/10, G05D23/19|
|Cooperative Classification||G01J5/08, G01J5/0025, F24D19/1009, F24D19/10, G05D23/1905|
|1 Apr 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: GOOGLE INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:DANIELS, ERIC B.;DONG, WILLIAM R.;CHAMBERLAIN, JASON C.;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20140821 TO 20150205;REEL/FRAME:035314/0797